Next spring


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Next spring

Postby skilfautdire » Dec 20th, '09, 17:44

Hi all,

I'd like to plan in such a way that when the new tea ia available next spring, that I'll be able to get some and actually enjoy it at the same time, w/o having to go through already made reserves. Best way would be to always order only but small quantities, although when I'm making orders, I tend to order several teas at a time, if only to save on post.

So, is there a list somewhere that shows the availability dates of various teas at spring time ? I'm interested in Japanese greens, and Chinese greens and oolongs. I'd like to know for instance which tea is just about always the first available and at what date it is found by the vendors.

I started drinking good quality tea earlier this year so I do not know how the availability of teas unfolds from spring. Or is it starting from March or earlier ? Is there a delay before the new teas makes it to the vendors for reselling ?

Thanks for any info, cheers.
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Re: Next spring

Postby Chip » Dec 20th, '09, 18:02

This varies from year to year, plus there is some over zealous marketing for "first to market teas" (FTM) IMHO.

Chinese greens in March are not unheard of, but I think they are generally over priced because of the FTM marketing hype and demand created. They are also generally very "light" tasting. I think you are better off waiting for April/May availability for Chinese greens, and later for most USA vendors.

Japanese greens, there is a little of the FTM at play, but not as extreme time wise as Chinese counterparts. Therefore some of the Hashiri shincha can be quite good, and worth maybe getting ONE, but not loading up. I find they lack the balance of teas picked in their prime. Hashiri is picked with the goal of being a FTM offering, not to be the very best!!! Yet they are priced higher than much better tasting counterparts ... IMHO.

Most Shicha start rolling in from Kagoshima and Shizuoka in April to early May. Uji starts showing up in mid May. This is very general, and not a rule of thumb.

But this is all subject to the weather!!!

I generally want to be running out of Japanese tea in mid April or so, but fear not if you have 2009 harvest. With proper packaging and storage, it can often be as good or better than shincha ...........
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Re: Next spring

Postby gingkoseto » Dec 20th, '09, 18:27

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Re: Next spring

Postby skilfautdire » Dec 20th, '09, 21:16

Gingko, thanks for the info. That's quite interesting. Of course, nature being nature, there are variations from year to year, the idea is to get a ballpark approximation. The Tea Plantation Agronomy link is also very interesting.
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Re: Next spring

Postby Proinsias » Dec 20th, '09, 21:55

I just check in here. The build up for new teas appearing is like kids at Christmas. I don't place any large orders for green tea at the beginning of the year but then I don't tend to drink that much green tea at the beginning of the year, it's nice to sow down a little on the green tea even if just to make the new arrivals worth the build up.

There's always the gyokuro option which I recently learned, from some Japanese tea obsessed mod that posts here on occasion 8) , is aged for around six months before market making it a nice winter purchase.
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Re: Next spring

Postby skilfautdire » Dec 20th, '09, 22:01

For that matter a Chinese colleague recently told me that some Chinese prefer the fall harvest of tiequanyin. Which was made available not too long ago (at least by Yunnansourcing). The Yunnan Silver Needles White Tea is also one that is harvested at fall.

Anecdote from the Chinese colleague: some mountains are guarded by the army so that the tea production goes exclusively to very important people in China.
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Re: Next spring

Postby Proinsias » Dec 20th, '09, 22:10

Houde had some nice winter oolong last year. I've not tried any yet this year though.

edit:

yay!! 1000 posts!!!
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Re: Next spring

Postby skilfautdire » Dec 20th, '09, 22:27

I've only started with tea earlier this year. I'm not about to get that kind of expensive tea, if only that I fear I wouldn't appreciate them fully. I prefer to get along whit less expensive teas for now.

Also, Hou De is based in the USA. This would add to the shipping charges to a neighbour northern country which is considered by many USA vendors as being the in the international realm. I'm mentionning this again because from Japan a recent order of 402 grams cost $8.70 USD, custom-free, via plain airmal (that's when the vendor does not offer free shipping, such as Hibiki-An and the packages gets in within 5 days) so I wonder why a package that comes from just about around the world would cost so little and a package sent from the immediate southern neighbour would cost the same, if not more, with no free shipping option (and customs-free not guaranteed). I'm not blaming any USA vendor as they might indeed be facing problems to send parcels to Canada, for some reasons.

OK, that was my rant. But these are also the laws of expanding international commerce. It's so easy to order for a cheaper price and added convenience from the other side of the world.
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Re: Next spring

Postby Chip » Dec 20th, '09, 22:29

Proinsias wrote:There's always the gyokuro option which I recently learned, from some Japanese tea obsessed mod that posts here on occasion 8) , is aged for around six months before market making it a nice winter purchase.

First snow signals Gyokuro season in Pennsylvania. 8) An alternative translation for Gyokuro is "after the snow falls, ease up on the sencha and drink aged shade grown leaf." Well, that is my translation ...
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Re: Next spring

Postby Chip » Dec 20th, '09, 22:33

skilfautdire wrote:I've only started with tea earlier this year. I'm not about to get that kind of expensive tea, if only that I fear I wouldn't appreciate them fully. I prefer to get along whit less expensive teas for now.

Also, Hou De is based in the USA. This would add to the shipping charges to a neighbour northern country which is considered by many USA vendors as being the in the international realm. I'm mentionning this again because from Japan a recent order of 402 grams cost $8.70 USD, custom-free, via plain airmal (that's when the vendor does not offer free shipping, such as Hibiki-An and the packages gets in within 5 days) so I wonder why a package that comes from just about around the world would cost so little and a package sent from the immediate southern neighbour would cost the same, if not more, with no free shipping option (and customs-free not guaranteed). I'm not blaming any USA vendor as they might indeed be facing problems to send parcels to Canada, for some reasons.

OK, that was my rant. But these are also the laws of expanding international commerce. It's so easy to order for a cheaper price and added convenience from the other side of the world.

There is no such thing as "free shipping" really. When ordering from a producing country, seems at times they simply increase the leaf price and decrease the shipping cost. After all, what would you rather be seemingly spending money on, leaf or shipping? Makes sense from a marketing standpoint.

This philosophy is much less prevelant for domestic USA vendors, though it is catching on.
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Re: Next spring

Postby skilfautdire » Dec 21st, '09, 21:34

Chip wrote:There is no such thing as "free shipping" really. When ordering from a producing country, seems at times they simply increase the leaf price and decrease the shipping cost. After all, what would you rather be seemingly spending money on, leaf or shipping? Makes sense from a marketing standpoint.


Indeed. It's very likely that the 'locals' have a much better deal on leaf to start with than any foreigner, even if said foreigner claims to travel to China/Japan/Taiwan several times per year to make deals and maintain connections. Such an Occidental foreigner is then at a disadvantage when reselling teas in his part of the world and it perhaps makes it more difficult to cut on profit in order to offer free shipping.

Not to mention worldwide free shipping as some Japanese vendors do (which is nice - for that matter and as an example, the lowest grades from Hibiki-An, with free shipping, are not that expensive).

Ah well, ...
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Re: Next spring

Postby gingkoseto » Jan 5th, '10, 00:48

A problem of shipping to Canada from US is, there is no cheap track-able way of shipping. Plain mail to Canada is not more expensive than domestic shipping, but by far not as secured.

Also I guess the purchase power of a region is important to many vendors. For a few times I tried to talk some Chinese sellers into shipping directly to US, but they are not interested because they are so busy with domestic business and selling to US is unknown territory for them. With the growth of north American market, I can imagine in future years there will be more and more smart Chinese sellers who want to ship to NA. :D
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Re: Next spring

Postby gingkoseto » Jan 5th, '10, 00:49

Oops, double posted...

"When ordering from a producing country, seems at times they simply increase the leaf price and decrease the shipping cost..."

I think here the problem is most sellers who do western business are secondary dealers who specialize in foreign market. If more tea farmers and primary dealers are willing to deal with foreign market then there will be better price options.
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Re: Next spring

Postby Charles » Jan 5th, '10, 11:46

The cost and risk for a consumer to order direct from source makes that nearly impossible. There are all manner of import regulations, shipping costs are extremely high, and you have no ability to return products and no recourse if you get cheated.

It's like buying a sweater from China. Sure, you CAN do that, but buying one sweater will be far MORE expensive if you include all the costs. If you're buying 20 sweaters you might save money, but the cost savings still aren't worth the hassle and risk.

Finally, the only way to guarantee that you're buying fresh tea in the spring is to ask a trusted vendor. The individual seasons range from a few weeks to a few months depending on the tea and the region. I've seen years when the best teas didn't come out until two months into a season. Everyone who paid a premium for "fresh tea first" WAY overpaid.

In addition, the cost of shipping tea by air is roughly 10 times the cost of shipping it in a 40 foot container by sea. It takes an extra month to 6 weeks for a vendor to get their tea by sea, but you'll pay 20% to 50% less for that same tea!
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Re: Next spring

Postby gingkoseto » Jan 12th, '10, 01:29

Thinking about the coming spring, I am struggling on whether to get some really early spring (or winter? :shock: ) harvested green tea. The tea is from Xi Shuang Ban Na, and I believe the plantation was mainly meant to be for puerh production. I don't think the tea will be as sweet as those from traditional "mainstream" green tea region, but it sounds exciting to have new tea in late January :o
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