Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hubei, China Spring Harvest Update from Joshua

The good news is that Western Hubei, in Central China has been blessed with great weather, ample rain at the right time and superb spring harvesting conditions. A misty and cool March with intermittent sunny spells lead into a very nice April flushing climate. This is the area that produces our Jade Cloud Green Tea and also one of my favorite Green Teas, known by its local name as "Lu Zhen" or "Green Needles".

I could say that the Green Needles from the Xuan En Fair Trade Organic Cooperative in Southwest Hubei are some of the best and most reasonable priced teas I've tasted from all of China's 2010 spring teas this year.

Harvesting of Green Needles started on March 20th and those teas were superb but priced for the gods.

Green Needles really started to show off their character from March 22nd and we've been enjoying them everyday during our travels.

The best quality micro-lots were sent by me to Rishi after the Qingming production in early April. They will be available exclusively on our website very soon and the first batches will be the March super-lots selected by me from the Mingqian harvest season.

Lu Zhen is the most famous type of tea from Xuan En, Hubei and has been the most favored over the last 200-300 years.

Xuan En has an ancient tea producing history of more than 1300 years. The modern types of Lu Zhen evolved from Xuan En's antique style of "Yu Lu" (Jade Dew). Yu Lu are the same Chinese characters the Japanese use to name their most precious tea, "GyoKuro (Jade Dew)."

The Xuan En area's green tea processing method is linked to the old hand crafted methods of making green tea that the Japanese learned from there travels in that area before the formal invention of Japanese Sencha in the mid-late 18th Century.

Before modern Sencha, there was Temomicha Sencha which was made by hand and rubbed and rolled until dry on heated tables called Hoiro in Japanese. Lu Zhen is still made on heated tables and will remind one of the Japanese Temomicha. Lu Zhen processing is one of the early influences of Sencha but has a radically different character that unique from all other types of green tea.

Lu Zhen is rarely exported outside of China and there are two styles, the steamed type and the roasted type. We are happy to introduce both styles of Lu Zhen this year and we feel this year, with all the weather problems in China that Lu Zhen will prove to be one of the best green teas from China's 2010 spring harvest. Please enjoy. The tea will be available by the end of the 3rd week of April.

Yours truly,

Joshua and friends at 1000 meters above sea level in one of Ma'An Village's tea farms in Xuan En during the harvest of our Lu Zhen Green Needles.

Ms. Qu Ping shows off the picking standard of 1st flush Lu Zhen Green Needles in Xuan En's Ma'An village.

 One leaf and a bud must be picked from late March through the first week and a half of April to make the top quality Lu Zhen Green Needles.

Our friends were proudly wearing their traditional Tujia clothes to honor the introduction of Green Needles to Rishi Tea.

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