winter vs. spring harvest teas

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For those of you who missed my tea tasting comparing winter vs. spring oolongs at the Northwest Tea Festival last weekend, here is some information on the difference between spring and winter harvest Taiwanese oolongs.

Spring teas can be likened to teenagers. They are vibrant, energetic, bursting with character, color, flavor and personality. They have been influenced by the drama of the torrential spring downpours and the variable temperatures and water volume available to them. 

Winter teas are more like the mature individual who has perhaps more depth of character, a little more poise and is a bit more complex, but balanced and even.  Terroir influences on winter teas include light but more constant rain that downplays the drama and increases the steadiness and balance of the teas. Winter teas tend to be more golden and darker in color than spring teas and sometimes require slightly longer steeping times to get the optimal brew.

The influences of shorter days and less sun, combined with cooler temperatures means that winter leaves are smaller, sturdier and thicker than tea leaves of the spring harvest. As such, winter harvest yields also tend to be smaller, and therefore sometimes more expensive.  Winter tones tend to be deeper in both flavor and color than teas of spring.
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