As green tea lovers are beginning to count the days until the 2009 harvest starts later this month, Imperial Tea Court Teamaster Roy Fong just passed along these weather forecasts that give a likely preview of coming attractions for the new tea season. Summing it up, he says, "it looks good so far."
According to Roy:
Yunnan: just starting to rain. Last year's weather was too wet and it affected the tea (too much moisture produces tea with low aromatics), so last year's Yunnan tea in general was not as good. This year's weather is a bit too dry, which will affect total yield and production, but if the weather pattern continues and maybe there's a bit more rainfall, we should enjoy good production. Also, the economic situation and the pu er tea "crash" mean more choices and farmers are ready to do better work in order to attract customers. We are in contact with our farmers and are expecting a good year from Yunnan. Our production is expected to start around March 15 or so.
Hangzhou and Eastern China: raining with cold weather. This is good: rain nurtures the tea and the quality of the harvest should be good unless it gets excessively rainy. Last year there was a last-minute frost that was devastating to the harvest; it killed off the freshly sprouted leaves and caused both yield and quality issues. Barring the same conditions we hope to have a good dragonwell harvest again this year (we lucked out last year: while neighboring farms were devastated, we had a very good harvest of Lotus Heart, in fact, one of the best of the last few years). Good green tea yields from the Fujian and Eastern China area mean good base material for our jasmine teas. Fujian and oolong tea harvest starts in another 2-3 weeks and is not expected to reach full production until mid-April.
Roy is leaving for China shortly to supervise the harvest and will be reporting more soon. We'll keep you posted!