It had been chilly at the advent of spring , but now it's warm and cosy that flowers and botanicals are starting to glow and bloom.The sprouts, which had been dormant for a long time in the winter, begin to stretch out, and in the bright spring days, they are thriving.
Though the processing steps of green tea are typically minimal, and the profile is narrowly defined by the lack of oxidation, the range in green tea is various greatly.
Harvest date is the primary criteria for grading traditional Chinese green teas, with the first leaves picked during the year fetching the highest prices. But the most expensive tea is not always best for every palate, and exceptions exist to every rule. So how exactly does harvest date contribute to quality? And what factors can change the impact of traditional harvest dates?
Green teas picked before the Qing Ming Festival on April 5th are referred to as “Ming Qian Tea. With harvests typically beginning in mid-March, these early spring green teas are made up of the first leaf buds to sprout after the dormant winter season.
After a winter recuperation, the buds store the most natural sugars, and the smallest amount of astringent tannins. In addition, the temperature is generally low in early spring,which leads to a low yield,making the prices for these teas high.
The tea leaves are harvested after Qing Ming on April 5th ,and before Gu Yu(when spring raisn are expected) around April 20th are referred to as “Yu Qian Tea”. Yu Qian tea is not as tender as Ming Qian tea, but due to the high temperature at this time, the buds and leaves grow relatively fast, and the harvested buds will be larger, and are usually accompanied by the second leaf on the stem.
These slightly more mature buds can be ideal for drinkers new to spring green teas, since they strike a good balance between flavor and price. Yu Qian tea tends to have a bolder taste and long-lasting flavor,and the increased yields mean more affordable prices.
People say that green tea pays attention to "tenderness.Does that mean the earlier the tea is picked, the better the taste?There are a few aspects of terroir that can change the expected calendar range of these seasonal stages.
Green tea is the most wide-cultivation kind in China, and it is cultivated in the south, east and northwest. Due to the influence of different latitudes, altitudes, varieties and other factors, the budding time of tea trees and the time of green tea production are also different. Generally speaking, tea gardens at low altitudes in the south are harvested earlier.
For example, green tea in Sichuan,Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces will sprout at the end of February and will be picked in early March; while in the higher latitudes in Shandong Province , it may produce teas with early spring flavor at later harvest dates until the end of March and early April.
In addition, some green teas do not have a high demand for the tenderness of the tea, and will be harvested later, such as Anhui Taiping Houkui, which is harvested only with one bud and three leaves.
Ultimately, harvest dates are only a guide to help narrow the range of flavor profiles, not a definitive guide to objective quality. Remember to consider provenance, variety, and crafting style as well to get a more complete idea of the flavors you can expect.
Which is your favorite green tea harvest season? Let us know in the comments below.