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1st Growth Teas: a wonderful way to celebrate spring

by Lydia Kung

Samples are starting to come in, mostly from the southwestern parts of China where February was described as warm, giving some teas an early start. Alas, some of these earliest teas are also the priciest, given the cachet of being “first” and qualifying for the Ming Qian (pre Qing Ming festival) label. (The grave sweeping festival falls on April 5th this year.)

A couple of early arrivals will be Snow Sprouting Green, a sample just cupped today – softly floral and absolutely fresh, the organic Himalayan Honey Green from Nepal, and Sichuan Tippy Black with its hints of chocolate.

As I am wont to repeat each year, we may see announcements about the appearance of teas such as Dragonwell as early as March. There is a very little produced at the end of March in true-to-origin Zhejiang, but caution is warranted: this is one tea where authentic origin should matter. With processing expected to finish up soon, we hope to receive the first Pre-Qing Ming Dragonwell in early April.

This photo below shows a spring (2018) Dragonwell from Hubei province.

The look is different, quite noticeably so even from a first glance. The deeper green might be appealing, but keep in mind that Zhejiang’s Dragonwell has a dappling of yellow. The Hubei version tasted different too, with less of the slightly nutty notes associated with this signature green, and the price was not low.

A call for patience also applies to White teas, as those from Yunnan are weeks ahead of those from Fujian. An offer of Silver Needles from Yunnan is already in hand, whereas we are at least a couple of weeks away from seeing this tea from Fujian.

I will be in Anhui and Hunan in early April and look forward to bringing back more news. The bulk of notable spring tea samples will be out next month.

March 25, 2019