Update on Spring Teas
With the current situation as it is, our expert tasters will not be able to take their annual trips to Asia to meet both partners & suppliers. So what is the current status of the spring harvest? What impact do the current events have on our partners and their gardens? When will the new teas be imported?
Here’s a summary of the situation.
Recently China has seen a significant drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases since early March hopefully indicating that they have controlled it. Though certain restrictions remain, the normal course of life is slowly resuming.
We are happy to know that our partners, their families (as well as their gardens) are all healthy and safe. The situation was less critical in rural areas than the intensity of the big cities.
The good news is that the harvest season is now in full swing and although the buying logistics were more complicated, the springtime arrivals are slowly making their way here. In addition, the teas are very promising!
Our producers have also been dealing with logistical challenges ... The initial worry was the safe transport to the garden for the workers, often travelling from neighbouring provinces. With the handpicking of the precious tea leaves being so time-sensitive, our producers had been very concerned about their teams being there during the crucial time frame. As you know, timing can be the difference between a great or a lost harvest. Some of our dedicated producers such as Mr. Tang, producer of Long Jing Shi Feng, had to rent special buses for the workers who were able to safely travel with their health certificates (in the form of a QR code which provides the daily medical history).
From a climate standpoint, a dry end of the year has meant light growth despite more rain in the last few weeks. so a light crop but solid in quality.
In India, the situation is very different especially for the Darjeeling 1st flush: their short 6 week First Flush season came to an abrupt halt with the government lock-down just days after the early gardens had started harvesting. This first season of the tea year accounts for 40% of the gardens' annual revenue. Fortunately for us, due to some great long-time friendships, we were able to get our hands on 5 lots that will be shipped as soon as logistically possible. Depending on how the situation evolves, we may be able to receive more but it’s still too early to confirm. With a very limited season quantity-wise, prices will likely be a little higher than usual.
As for the Tea Studio, our artisanal factory in the South of India. We have closed the factory temporarily. The team will be paid until further notice. As you know, they are a tight-knit group and are all eager to get back to work. The good news: our factory produces almost all year long and our recent harvests left India just before the regulations were enforced. So no shortage for those delicious Tea Studio teas.
Japan and Taiwan
With the springtime harvest only beginning in the next few weeks, we are still staying hopeful and will report as news comes in. If all goes well, we should have a few Japanese and Taiwanese teas by mid-may.
What about our tasters?
The four Camellia Sinensis tasters have religiously visited our producing countries every spring. Kevin was preparing his 28th yearly visit! This annual tradition allows them to build and reinforce the essential personal connections they have with the producers. It is also the only way for them to select their teas, freshly made and directly from the gardens. Needless to say that our tasters were very disappointed not to travel this year, and each has been working in his own way to make the best selections from a distance.
Thanks to all those close ties, built over the years, they were fortunate enough to source necessary qualities and quantities, many teas made to our preferred processing methods and adapted to our market. For other teas, our producers made pre-selections with detailed explanations for lots from the parts of the garden we prefer. Such close and long-term relationships have created strong bonds producers, such as the producer of Anji Bai Cha. Every year, as Jasmin tastes 6-12 of her teas, she hides a bag with his name on it as a prediction of his selection. Every year, she gets it right!
Our team would like to thank you for your trust, loyalty, and support - it has, and always will make a huge difference for our entire team. As you know, for us, tea is synonymous with sharing and a way to better enjoy a well-deserved break. We hope it can comfort you through these difficult times and hopefully, brighten your day a bit. We will keep you posted on all developments - until then, keep an eye out for our spring teas. They will be at the peak of their freshness when they’ll arrive.
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