Spring vs. Autumn Harvest


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Spring vs. Autumn Harvest

Postby Tead Off » Jun 17th, '13, 00:45

I have often asked this question to long time Puerh drinkers, 'which harvest is better and what are the differences?' Most have told me that Spring harvest is preferred. Certainly, the prices are higher for Spring harvest in general. But, why is Spring harvest the preferred tea? The answers have varied wildly, some bordering on nonsense.

In practice, I have drunk a number of Autumn harvest shengs that have tasted very good and seem much better values than their Spring counterparts. In fact, amongst Taiwan gaoshan teas, some prefer winter harvest saying it has deeper flavor.

What do you think and why?
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Re: Spring vs. Autumn Harvest

Postby gingkoseto » Jun 17th, '13, 01:02

There is a common saying that "drink spring tea for liquor texture and drink autumn tea for fragrance". In most people's tea aesthetics, tea liquor texture is more important than fragrance. Besides, spring tea could have good fragrance too.
On the other hand, I think better autumn tea is better than less good spring tea :mrgreen: But it would be a relatively more fair comparison to compare the spring and autumn tea made by the same producer from the same region.
I do think some autumn teas are less bitter than spring teas and therefore are ready for drinking sooner. But this is probably by the same token that autumn tea liquor is thinner than spring tea. So it's hard to say whether it's a good thing or not.
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Re: Spring vs. Autumn Harvest

Postby shah82 » Jun 17th, '13, 01:49

Autumn tea usually doesn't have quite as detailed a flavor.

I suppose it does need to be said that you want a *good* Autumn flush and not some interstitial flush earlier or later than the real flush. It is my impression that Autumn flush is more variable in selection by the tea-maker, and can be worse than it should be. Some years are better than others.

As for body, I think that in the long run, body doesn't matter. It matters most when you're interested in drinking a tea soon, and it's a good thing when young tea has lots of it, but the sort of body and texture that old tea has...that's not the same as the body of young tea. Like old qi not being young qi. From what I understand, that's important because I don't think old tree tea tends to have a lot of thickness unless the trees are well cared for (or local area naturally makes pectin rich leaves). More important to ascertain texture, especially whether it helps keep flavor in the mouth. I have certainly never met an older tea that I understood to be fall to have better than normal body. However, I've not been bothered by them. Only one tea, the 2003 Bulang JingPin, would I declare to have better than normal aroma. At the end of the day, it does depend on the tea, and I would guess that anything genuinely good would not cost much less than the spring version.
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Re: Spring vs. Autumn Harvest

Postby Tead Off » Jun 18th, '13, 02:31

Good posts, Shah & Gingko. A lot to consider and study in your replies. Mostly, I've gotten strange TCM comments about Autumn harvest and how it will harm you down the road.
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Re: Spring vs. Autumn Harvest

Postby Teaism » Jun 18th, '13, 05:05

Tead Off wrote: Mostly, I've gotten strange TCM comments about Autumn harvest and how it will harm you down the road.



Yes, I met a few TCM and also older tea masters who mentioned about the negative effects of autumn or even late spring tea. They mentioned that one of the many signs are knee joint pain and problematic digestive system. However, a lot are hearsay, without scientific backing. At the same time, it is also good to note that TCM and many Chinese folklores are based on decades of observations and there may be some percentage of truth in it.

One old tea master told me that years ago a group of Taiwanese tea masters went to China and did a joint research with Chinese tea masters on the Puer tea. The Taiwanese noticed that a lot of wild and large trees leaves were left alone in late spring onwards. They were astonished that the Chinese, being such a resourceful people can leave alone such tea tree. Later, they found out that only spring tea leaves are good for Puer especially from large and wild tea trees. They noted that late spring and later tea from big tree and wild trees cause stomach upset. I didn't see any documentation of these stories but heard it a few times from different sources over a period of time.

Notwithstanding what has been said above, there is no concrete scientific evidence whether they are facts or fiction, but it is good to heighten our observation and prudence.
Personally for me, if given a choice, I will go for as early spring as possible when considering any purchase.

Cheers!
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Re: Spring vs. Autumn Harvest

Postby SFLouis » Jun 18th, '13, 17:48

I read a post on half-dipper that included a copy of an email exchange between Hobbes and Eugene of Tea Urchin on this subject, kind of. Hobbes was sort of asking about some of Tea Urchin's autumn offerings as he felt that they were somewhat red. Eugene replied that this is something that happens with autumn tea because there is often a lot more water in the leaves when they go into sha qing. Idk about redness, so much, but what I have experienced with the autumn teas I've tried is that they have a tendency to lean towards sourness and sharp, front-of-the-mouth kind of bitterness rather than the other kinds I like. I have bought cakes of *some* autumn teas that I still enjoy, but it's mainly the first few infusions I enjoy before sourness sets in. I have been able to find some spring teas that do not present this problem.
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Re: Spring vs. Autumn Harvest

Postby gingkoseto » Jun 18th, '13, 19:44

One thing about traditional Chinese medicine is, it's not a science (no less respect though) if we define scientific problems as hypothesis testing kind of problems. TCM is largely based on experience and accumulation of reinforcement in practice over generations. Then a problem with TCM puerh statement is, most greatest TCM doctors lived their life without even seeing puerh. If the TCM puerh theories are not based on demonstrated experience but based on inference of other TCM theories (which are always flexible and multi-directional), it's rather paradoxical with that TCM being experienced based and not inference based.

In one word, it's hard to decide whether to trust TCM puerh statements.

On the other hand, sayings about autumn teas hard to dry and easy to get smoky (because it's hard to dry and dried near smoke sources) are based on facts and could be related to health concerns. But autumn teas could be made well anyway.
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