I was worried that they wouldn’t be very good. The variation in quality for Taiwan’s spring oolongs isn’t as big as for winter teas, but still, no one wants a relatively poor product. Winter, though, typically has wetter and colder weather that can affect both the leaves and harvesting times.
The early reports for Taiwan’s spring weather showed more rain than usual. Pickers cannot/should not harvest high mountain tea after heavy rains. They normally wait some number of days after the heavy rains before picking. The extra time on the bush can definitely affect how “good” the tea ends up being. There was a tea season about 3 years ago when nearly every high mountain tea had a bitter base, something the farmers explained as being a by-product of an especially rainy and cold season that delayed picking (I still have several samples from that season, leaves were thicker and larger than normal).
I’ve been anxiously waiting for Floating Leaves tea to re-open after their spring tea tour and buying trip. Shiuwen and Floating Leaves consistently have high-quality Taiwan oolongs and I respect that she will not buy a certain tea if it’s not to her standard (hence she did not have Dayuling for a number of seasons). Although I’m not a huge fan of greener oolongs, it’s very hard for me to resist a good Lishan that she often carries. I was relieved when she returned this past week with some solid high mountains. The Dayuling in particular is good, the Lishan is pretty smooth (it needs a few weeks to settle down and blossom) and the Dinghu Alishan was surprisingly good (this Alishan does not have the typical flavor profile of Alishans, but it’s my favorite growing region for this tea because of its clean & clear characteristics). Good stuff, relieved I am.
I am most anxiously awaiting the special-request teas that will arrive in 2 weeks. A 15-year old Dong Ding for $10/oz and a limited-production charcoal-roasted Dong Ding. I also got a sample of a 3-year old moderate roast/oxidation Muzha Tieguanyin that is very good – can’t wait for that to arrive, too. More reports and tasting notes to come.
Drinking good tea and continuing to enrich my life.