Tea from Taiwan this season

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Ethan Kurland
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Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:08 am

This season's tea from Taiwan:

This season gaoshan is a disappointment. My palate told me that there was none to buy. I hoped to hear that now would be like what happened a year ago, that good gaoshan would be coming late. I was told by the same people who told me last year to be patient, that this season better gaoshan would not be coming: I was told for Taiwan this season was not a good one for green oolong.

Nonetheless, I tried green oolong from lower elevations & other vendors until I drank enough bad tea to accept what I had been told.

From the Spring I have excellent green oolong from Shanlinxi & Dayuling that is much better than anything sampled that is a newer product; so, no worries there. (That is why one buys such tea in quantity in vacuum-packs & stores them in cool, dry refrigeration.)

(Returning to my main source.) I heeded the advice of my betters & concentrated on black tea. It seems that some wise tea producers recognize that some seasons the best use of the best leaves available should be devoted to black tea. So, after tasting & buying a Hehuan Black that I love ; I did not stop tasting & consequently was glad to buy Organic Alishan black tea also.

Turning my attention to aged oolong, nothing pleased me more than my very favorite tea (Father Love); yet, for a few years I have wanted 2 similar oolongs: 1 aged 14 years in ceramic urns & 1 aged 22 years in ceramic urns. I wanted them before I could appreciate them as much as I do now. This was recognized; thus ,I was not allowed to buy them. Some people will not sell some of their teas to those who cannot appreciate them. Perhaps now I am given some credit for evolving as a drinker; or, perhaps whining about no new green oolong being available stimulated my main source to allow me to buy some of each of the other aged oolongs. Whatever! I got some & love drinking them.

I thought I was done testing when 2 other sources got back to me. I liked a very old, lightly roasted oolong from Pinglin. Its taste of dried fruit is quite pleasing, but it is a tea that is not as special as its price is high. Moreover, the kind of pleasure that one gets from the notes of fruit comes off better & stronger in the Oriental Beauty that I acquired a year ago. (I did sample more O.B. this season which was not as good as what I have already, which was excellent when purchased & is even better after it rested a while.)
Slurp
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Sat Dec 14, 2019 5:21 pm

Interesting. To what do you attribute the disappointment in this fall's harvest?
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Bok
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Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:49 am

Slurp wrote:
Sat Dec 14, 2019 5:21 pm
Interesting. To what do you attribute the disappointment in this fall's harvest?
Weather. Rain at the wrong time, not enough at another.

Just sipping at some Lishan from last years winter harvest (yes, if the quality is good, Gaoshan can be stored well over a year), which was good. Haven’t even gotten to buy winter tea yet. What I heard was that while tea is good, the yield was quite low.
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Brent D
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Mon Dec 16, 2019 11:01 am

I would agree. I found almost all of what I had this year to be disappointing. I did find some worth drinking though. Nothing spectacular.
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Mon Dec 16, 2019 11:14 am

The unpredictability of harvests is why I buy gaoshan in sampler sizes (10g-25g). There's nothing worse than being stuck with a massive quantity of lousy tea.

I just got my TTC order in last week. So far I've tried the winter Baozhong which was excellent and Shibi high mountain which was good though not mindblowing.
Ethan Kurland
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Mon Dec 16, 2019 1:14 pm

LuckyMe wrote:
Mon Dec 16, 2019 11:14 am
The unpredictability of harvests is why I buy gaoshan in sampler sizes (10g-25g).
If the sample pleases you, do you rush to order a significant quantity of that tea? 10 - 25 grams is just a tease.
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Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:59 pm

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Mon Dec 16, 2019 1:14 pm
LuckyMe wrote:
Mon Dec 16, 2019 11:14 am
The unpredictability of harvests is why I buy gaoshan in sampler sizes (10g-25g).
If the sample pleases you, do you rush to order a significant quantity of that tea? 10 - 25 grams is just a tease.
Depends on what you mean by significant. Sure I may reorder a tea that I like but usually not more than 25g. I like variety and would rather have 25g of 4 different teas than 100g of any single tea.

There are a couple of other reasons why I stick to samplers. Since I usually drink solo, smaller teaware like my 50ml shibo provide quite a few gongfu sessions from even a 10g sample. Then there's the issue of drinking tea at optimal freshness. Green oolongs in particular begin losing their freshness pretty quickly once opened so buying in small quantities helps ensure a tea doesn't go stale on me before I can finish it.
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Mon Dec 16, 2019 4:49 pm

LuckyMe wrote:
Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:59 pm
I like variety and would rather have 25g of 4 different teas than 100g of any single tea.
It has been a little under two years since I have discovered the world of loose leaf teas. I certainly welcome the chance to purchase small amounts of new teas to experiment with, and I have done that a lot, but I really look forward to the day where I start mostly drinking teas I know and love, while better choosing the ones I sample with a clear intent (or at least hope) of finding new favorites.

It comes down to basic probabilities : any new tea you try is very likely not to be among those you appreciate the most. The more experience and knowledge you have, the more powerful this effect is likely to become. At some point, variety risks becoming an impediment to what I would call "average enjoyment" : by trying fewer new teas, I know will miss out on a few very good ones, but I will also replace countless bags of disappointing (or less stellar) tea with others I deeply and consistently enjoy.

Of course this comes down to personal preference.
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Bok
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Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:26 pm

LuckyMe wrote:
Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:59 pm
Depends on what you mean by significant. Sure I may reorder a tea that I like but usually not more than 25g. I like variety and would rather have 25g of 4 different teas than 100g of any single tea.

There are a couple of other reasons why I stick to samplers. Since I usually drink solo, smaller teaware like my 50ml shibo provide quite a few gongfu sessions from even a 10g sample. Then there's the issue of drinking tea at optimal freshness. Green oolongs in particular begin losing their freshness pretty quickly once opened so buying in small quantities helps ensure a tea doesn't go stale on me before I can finish it.
Wow! Those are micro-sizes! You must be the vendors favourite customer, nothing more fun than packing and sealing tiny samples... :lol:

As in regards to freshness, at least Gaoshan can last 2-3 weeks once opened, before degrading – yet, say 150g, can be easily consumed in this time. And if let sealed and put in the fridge it can stay fresh at least a year (if the quality is good enough to begin with).

I must be thirsty, I'd finish 10g in probably no more than two sessions :mrgreen:
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Bok
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Tue Dec 17, 2019 4:11 am

Thinking of it, I would say it this way:

If a tea is not that good that I don’t wish to buy at least a jin(600g) of it, then I don’t want to buy that tea at all.
Ethan Kurland
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Tue Dec 17, 2019 10:03 am

Bok wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 4:11 am

If a tea is not that good that I don’t wish to buy at least a jin(600g) of it, then I don’t want to buy that tea at all.
Oh, I wish there were more people of the same opinion!
I am offering most of my teas in packs of 75-grams (1 in a 40 gr. pack; 1 in a 50; 1 in a 150 gr. pack); &, often fractions of those sizes would be preferred. I used to provide smaller sizes sometimes but won't anymore. Too often someone who ordered half of a pack (e.g. 1/2 x 75 grams) will want to order another half of a pack in a time period so short that the tea would not have changed (e.g. a black tea or roasted oolong would not signicantly change over a 6-month period).
The other side of being a vendor, is the great feeling coming from having suggestions taken. When someone takes a whole pack of a recommendation, I feel honored. Of course, sometimes what I think is one of the best, may be judged as one of the better, but as long as my "fantastic" is not someone else's "ordinary", the trust has been well placed. (I think I have avoided ordinary quality so far. Agreement about better teas is more common than agreement about what is best.)
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Tue Dec 17, 2019 11:54 am

@faj Like you, I also have a few years of experience with loose leaf teas under my belt and I generally know what I like. For me, variety in tea is not so much about trying out new stuff but experiencing different terroirs from specific tea growing regions that I’m already familiar with. For example, I ordered 3 different types of baozhong from TTC recently: regular wenshan baozhong and a more oxidized one from this harvest, as well as another variety from the spring. I’ve been buying from this vendor for a while now and know the teas will be good quality. I find it more interesting to taste the individual nuances of these varietals than being devoted to any single one because even an exceptional tea gets boring after a while. That’s just me though.

@Bok As long as vendors keep offering ‘em, I’ll happily take those mini samples off their hands :D Wow, 150g in 3 weeks is impressive...that would take me 3 months minimum. Then again, most of the time I’m drinking solo and have other teas in my rotation (greens, blacks, Chinese oolongs, etc). Drinking in small quantities allows me to have multiple teas during the day while keeping my caffeine intake under control.

@Ethan KurlandI agree, black and roasted oolong keep for a while. But I notice a drop in flavor and aromatics of green oolongs open for longer than 3 weeks.
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Victoria
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Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:39 am

LuckyMe wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 11:54 am
Bok As long as vendors keep offering ‘em, I’ll happily take those mini samples off their hands :D Wow, 150g in 3 weeks is impressive...that would take me 3 months minimum. Then again, most of the time I’m drinking solo and have other teas in my rotation (greens, blacks, Chinese oolongs, etc). Drinking in small quantities allows me to have multiple teas during the day while keeping my caffeine intake under control.
Every person is different and if you are caffeine sensitive I can see why you limit your intake. There is a topic ‘ How Much Tea Do You Consume Per Day?’ that also discusses the range among members here. I easily go through 10-12grams daily :) . For vendors though 25g samples are just samples meant to open the door to larger quantity purchases, like >150g.
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Tillerman
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Wed Dec 18, 2019 1:56 pm

Hello to all on this thread.

It is true that the teas this harvest is not as good as say the Spring 2018 ones but to write them off completely is an error for there are some more than serviceable teas to be had. It is rather like wine from an off vintage; there are always good bottles to be found and enjoyed. As @Bok has noted, the culprit this year was the weather, particularly the absence of rain.

Our teas came in very late this year; it was mid-December before all of the testing was complete (yes, I have my tea purchases tested at each harvest) and will only be released to the market in the New Year. I believe the quality of these teas is considerably North of "just acceptable" despite coming from an "off" year. That said, there certainly are teas that I did not buy: there is no Alishan from the Meishan district, no Bao Zhong and no Chingjing for example. Laoshi's Dong Ding is good - it's my daily drinker - but certainly less complex than previously. The TGY will drink well while waiting for earlier harvests to shine.

I try to buy good tea even in off years for good reason: the growers and producers deserve to be rewarded when, against the odds, they produce good product and the family farmers with whom I work simply cannot afford to have a complete harvest bypassed. I cannot in good conscience overlook them now yet, at the same time, expect them to supply their best tea in good years.To write off a year when the tea is not the finest harms us all in the long run; growers go out of business and there is no tea at all in the best years.

You may dismiss these comments as self-serving tripe, I am a vendor after all. But properly prepared, tripe can be a wonderful dish.
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OldWaysTea
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Wed Dec 18, 2019 3:01 pm

Most farmers in Wuyishan didn't make winter tea in 2019. The lack of rain left the trees too stressed to harvest.

I very much see both sides of the small quantity sales. As a vendor, of course managing small packages is work. I somewhat mitigate that by only selling small packages. :lol: I realize that western customers want to buy smaller quantities. Our family's shops in Wuyishan generally sell half jin and up. Most retail orders are 2-10 jin.
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