Spring has sprung, but where's the rain?! (Photo courtesy of Focus Taiwan)
Taiwan will begin its 5-day national holiday for Qing Ming Festival on April 1. Also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, this is a traditional holiday in Chinese culture that falls on the first day of the fifth solar term, two weeks after the spring equinox. This holiday also dubs as Taiwan's version of spring break, with throngs of people heading to beach resort areas on the south and east coasts.
Normally, this holiday also marks the beginning of spring harvest in central Taiwan's largest tea producing regions. Due to the lack of rain thus far in 2023, the spring tea growing season has been delayed. The tea growing areas in northern Taiwan seem to be getting enough rain however, and spring harvest is on schedule for Sanxia's Bi Luo Chun, Pinglin's Wenshan Baozhong, and Muzha's Tie Guan Yin Oolong.
In central Taiwan the spring harvest will be delayed about two weeks by current estimates. In spring, the harvest starts at low elevation and works its way up to higher regions. The weather has just changed in the last few days, offering scattered showers, and we are looking forward to more wet weather next week.
Our friend who works at the Lugu branch of the Tea Research and Extension Station conducted field research at a low elevation tea farm where they harvested a crop of Jin Xuan cultivar (Tai Cha #12). Despite the fact that Jin Xuan is the one of the hardiest and prolific of small leaf type strains, the harvest was only half of the normal yield per area. The results will be even less for Qing Xin Oolong crops in most cases this spring.
These photos show us the more severe conditions at low elevation. High Mountain Tea gardens are less affected due to daily fog ad cooler climates. The yield at higher elevation is bound to be later and less bountiful, but with the rains approaching, we just need to be patient!
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Hopefully, the rainy season is simply delayed this year, and we will resume to normal weather and normal yields for our tea farmers and their dedicated supporters!