Hurray, it's spring! Temperatures are climbing fast as the sun rises earlier every day.
Today, I drove to nearby San Hsia in order to check on the newest spring harvests. While on the way, I heard the news on the radio that Taiwan's water shortage is very severe this year. Despite some recent rain, the precipitation level since fall is at an historic low. A farmer I called in Central Taiwan yesterday told me same thing: his harvests in Zhushan are delayed to end of March or maybe even early April, depending on the actual growth of the leaves. So, while last year's delay was caused by the cold, this year, it's due to water shortage.
Green tea in the north is also impacted by this situation and by the increasing difficulty to recruit people to harvest the new leaves. So, there's not much tea available now, but I managed to find one, a very interesting and very good Bi Luo Chun. Usually, Bi Luo Chun in San Hsia is made with Qingxin Ganzhong leaves. But that one is made with leaves and buds from the Jinxuan trees. Below, we can see another batch of fresh Jinxuan leaves being thrown on the floor just after picking:
This 'Jinxuan' based Bi Luo Chun has a very raw, 'green' aroma. There's a noticeable difference compared to a lightly oxidized Jinxuan Oolong. It feels more authentic and close to its pure and original taste. Harvested by hand on March 10th, it also has the softness and finesse I like in Jinxuan. It will be interesting to compare it to my December 28th Jinxuan Dong Pian Oolong, the least oxidized Jinxuan Oolong there is, in order to taste the impact of this little oxidation.
Today, the temperature climbed to 30 degrees Celcius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) on the plantation. I had prepared the perfect thirst quencher: some spring 2014 Bi Luo Chun.
These leaves still taste very light and sweet. As you can see, my Chaxi is a simple as possible and yet perfect for green tea. A black glazed Jianyang bowl serves as brewing and drinking vessel! And thanks to the bamboo mat, the bowl could easily find its balance among the tea leaves!
The brewing principle of green tea is to use very few leaves, much less than for Oolong. The goal is to obtain lightness, freshness and purity. Lively and soft water is the other key success factor you need to pay attention to.
Then, with a black bowl, you are rewarded by the wonderful colors of the leaves finding back their original shape!
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.