I just got back from my third trip to Taiwan this year, this time to lead a 10 day tea tour for some of my closest friends and students.
It was freakin’ awesome. Lots of stories to tell, lots of new lessons learned. I’ll be loading up the IG Stories (@teacurious) by tomorrow, so watch for those and enjoy the ride!
But first, let me give you a heads up.
If you like high mountain oolongs, Taiwan just had a pretty brilliant season for them this Winter.
With just enough rain leading up to harvest season, then clear skies during the harvest itself, the weather was peachy keen for good oolong tea.
I think there was more than just the good weather that made Winter 2019 so awesome though. — maybe it’s just me, but I got the sense that all the teamakers I spoke to were just thirsty to make good tea after this year’s awful Spring harvest.
There was just wayyyy too much rain last Spring, and while tea plants love rain, too much can cause the leaves to grow old on the bush before the tea pickers can get to them.
Whatever does get harvested will arrive sopping wet from the garden, and hard to process properly.
Due to the excess water in the leaves, rainy day teas can taste more sour and astringent, and also go stale more quickly.
It’s not impossible to make good tea in those good conditions, but when the conditions are just right, the tea factory becomes a playground for an experienced teamaker, and you get kickass teas with tons of character, like I’ve been seeing from Winter 2019.
As weather patterns grow more unpredictable in Taiwan (a drought kicked in right after the high mountain harvest!), I think it’ll become more uncommon to see an ideal season like this one.
My advice: go taste a bunch of Winter 2019 high mountain teas from your favorite vendors, and double down on any favorites you find.
Especially after the poor showing in Spring 2019, these new teas will go quick, I bet!