Roots Revisited For Early Spring Tea Harvest

April 15, 2017

Mr. and Mrs. Chen were lucky to have chosen April 10 for the harvest of the small plot of Jin Xuan they manage for their childhood friend and tea partner. It was sunny and breezy, perfect weather for harvesting spring tea!

This single day of clear skies and low humidity was followed by the next day's "spring thunder", a distinct storm system that traditionally announces the arrival of "spring rain" — a short season of ongoing rainfall, which can make spring tea harvest a tricky prospect!

You can see in the images above a shade cloth was used for solar withering, which means there was direct sunlight during the harvest hours before noon. I first visited this factory in 1995, when Tony Lin introduced his cousin Mr. Chen during that spring harvest 22 years ago. I've spent many days and nights at the tea factory since then, and learned a great deal about tea making over the last 20 plus years.

Mr. and Mrs. Chen were up at dawn, organizing and participating in the morning harvest, followed by a full day's work of solar withering and gathering the leaves to be stacked on bamboo trays for the long slow process of indoor withering. Mr. Chen related how he shuffled the leaves on each bamboo tray in rotation for hours by himself in the late afternoon before taking a dinner break, and then returning to the factory to continue the processing of the tea leaves with his wife. 

Mr. Liu, the owner of the factory and plot of tea showed up late in the evening to check in and lend a hand, and I couldn't help but feel a bit nostalgic over the fact that it was exactly 20 years ago this spring that I spent the night in the factory for the first time. No time for posing or reminiscing though, there was work to do!

Mr. Liu went off to bed by midnight, and I left at 1:30 a.m. to ride some 25 km to my home at the foot of the mountain. Mr. and Mrs. Chen still had a couple hours of work before completing the initial processing of the day's harvest, packing up, and driving home. That meant they probably went to bed near dawn — almost 24 hours after they started their day. I rode home feeling a new level of respect and admiration for my friends who have been doing this for over 30 years. As I rode through the still night air, I tried to think of how many tea farmers I know who still do all of this work themselves. I could only  think of the father and son team who make my favorite Dong Ding Oolong. Mr. and Mrs. Chen are my local heroes in this respect.

Andy Kincart, April 14, 2017





Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

Alishan High Mountain tea country in central Taiwan at dawn
Alishan High Mountain Tea Winter Harvest

December 03, 2020

We took this photo last spring when we slept out at this spot in order to catch the early morning harvest. It gives you a sense of the environment and the extent of farm development in this area of the Alishan High Mountain Tea producing region. It is one of the reasons we've chosen this farm as our source. This area was already developed as a rural farming community before the onset of modern tea production in Taiwan. The family farms were simply repurposed to grow tea when High Mountain Tea became popular. So, the development of tea production in this area has had less environmental impact than most other High Mountain Tea producing regions in Taiwan.

View full article →

Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Leaves
Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea

November 22, 2020

We are very happy to finally be able to offer the pre-modern version of Dong Ding Oolong Tea! We've waited for years to source this local traditional specialty from our friend who simply has more demand than supply from his family plot of tea in Phoenix Village in Lugu Township, Taiwan. 

View full article →

Eco-Farmed Special Roast Oolong Tea dry leaves
Eco-Farmed Specialty Roast Oolong Tea Tasting Notes| Eco-Cha Tea Club

November 16, 2020 1 Comment

Batch 60 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club brings us to a full five years of offering monthly editions of specialty Taiwanese teas! This month's edition was cultivated and crafted by one of our most respected sources of naturally farmed tea. He not only employs the most radical natural farming methods we know of, he also is continually refining processing methods to bring his produce to its fullest potential, based on the growing conditions of each season. Mr. Xie also produces our GABA Oolong Tea, which, like this month's batch, is one of his signature products.

View full article →