When Lu Yu wrote his Cha Jing, the only season that really counted was spring. He deemed it much better than summer or fall teas. This made sense, because during the Tang dynasty, the tea was processed green and it was produced in Sichuan or Hubei.
But Oolong faces a different climate in more southern Taiwan. First, Oolong tea isn't entirely about freshness (like green tea). Its semi-oxidation and roasting add more complexity to its aromas. A great oolong taste is also defined by its smoothness/sweetness, energy and persistence of its aftertaste. And Taiwan's fall climate is quite warm and can be quite confusing.
November 7 was Li Dong, the start of winter according to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. Today, the temperature was around 30 degrees Celcius around noon! (86 degrees Fahrenheit)! This summer-like weather isn't unusual. Tea leaves grow well with this kind of weather. That's why there is a winter season in the low elevation areas in the time around Li Dong (end of october/early November). The fall season happened around mid September in low elevations.
So, how come that my winter Da Yu Ling was harvested on September 14 ? Why isn't it considered a fall harvest when it's technically still summer until September 20? The reason is the different climate at 2300 meters elevation and 300 meters. In spring, the high mountain plantation are the last to be harvested, because the temperatures are colder longer and prevent the leaves from growing in early spring. At the end of the year, it's the opposite: the temperatures drop earlier in the mountains than in low elevations. Therefore, the leaves stop growing earlier than in lower elevations. So, since is their last harvest of the year, it's also called a 'winter' Oolong!
(By the way, the winter Baozhongs have arrived. The quality is close to exceptional. You can check my selection and send me an e-mail to request my updated price list.)
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.