Li Shan High Mountain Oolong Fall 2020
The fall harvest of high elevation farms is somewhat of a well kept secret in terms of the value for the money. Like all High Mountain Oolong growing regions, the local market price is more than a third cheaper than spring and winter harvests. But the fact remains that the difference in these harvests in only a few months apart! Different growing seasons have clearly noticeable influences on the constitution of the new leaf growth, and as a result — of the character of tea that is made from them. However, while the differences are notably significant, they are not at all drastic! Especially in recent years, climate change has complicated these seasonal differences to the point where each season stands on its own. There are simply less and less predictable weather patterns, that's a fact, along with the fact that "winter" in Taiwan is pretty much a thing of the past. Where we would have cold, wet weather from late December through February 20 years ago, we have mostly mild, dry weather with an occasional cold front that passes through in recent years. This has brought the quality of seasonal produce closer together, with each season being more of an anomaly than a pattern.
Looking closely at the image above, we can see that these tea trees were pruned in recent months. There are cut off branches, with new growth sprouting from them. This plot of tea was pruned in June, and the plants were allowed to produce new leaves for over through the summer before the newest leaves were plucked by hand from the sprouting new branches. We can see in the photo below how the trees were really pushing forth to generate new leaves to absorb the sunlight! This is another significant influencing factor in terms of producing the quality of the recent harvest. The farming practices and cycles of cultivating tea trees offer unique characteristics in a given harvest.
Beyond being able to take advantage of the value for the money aspect, it's really an opportunity to understand specialty tea more deeply. Experiencing the seasonal differences of harvest through the year, and year after year. Hearing about what contributing factors were involved, whether it be pruning, or weather and so on. We can are able to appreciate some of the best tea in the world with a depth of understanding — which allows us to appreciate it all the more.
So have at it! Get some fall Li Shan tea while it lasts, and save some cash while getting some of the harvest from August, in addition to June and October — because that's really the only difference between these harvests, in terms of the raw produce!
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