Nowadays, people talk about the weather when there's nothing else to talk about. The words mean less than the attitude, tone people say them. But for a tea farmer, the weather is of paramount importance. Cold or hot, dry or rainy, these factors will have a huge impact on the timing and quality of his harvest.
This winter, in northern Taiwan, the weather is the last subject any farmer wants to talk about. But there is no way to avoid it. This winter harvest season, the Wenshan area saw record rainfalls. And despite the best processing techniques, additional roasting... all winter samples I tasted were lacking something. (And many leaves were not harvested at all!)
Farmers remain at the mercy of the weather, while tea drinkers have the flexibility to go and buy elsewhere. But it did not feel right to abandon my trusted friend in this difficult time. So, I restocked some of his remaining spring 2011 'subtropical forest' Baozhong, a similar batch, harvested on May 5th. (It was so much better than the winter version ; time actually seems to have opened up its aromas). I also liked his Top Qizhong Oolong (similar to this one), roasted 5 times this September, using spring 2008 top quality leaves).
And finally, I also bought this lightly oxidized, flowery, organic Baozhong (made with luanze/qingxin Oolong). It was harvested on November 23, 2011, between the winter and the Dong Pian season, after the rain had stopped. Its character is light, sweet with a fine, zesty aftertaste. The leaves are big and still include stems. The brew doesn't have a good transparency (rain), but the soft and fresh taste should please all those who like their Baozhong unroasted.
My name is Stéphane Erler. I live in Taiwan since 1996 and have been studying tea with Teaparker. He's a worldwide tea expert and author of over 30 tea books. The study of tea isn't just theoretical, but it's also rooted in daily practice. It's a path of continuous improvement. As my brewing technique improves I get access to better teas and better accessories. These things go hand in hand. My blog documents my learning since 2004. And I have set up an online tea boutique with my selection of top quality teas, accessories and tea culture.