Blog 119: Why Aren’t Some Tea Available Right After The Harvest?

Our spring harvest is coming to an end. In less than 10 days, nearly all of our major harvest activities will complete.


At this moment, many tea lovers are expecting new tea products from this spring season. Unfortunately, we’re afraid that some of you might need to wait a little bit longer.


A half-process Wuyi oolong before roast

Depending on the tea category, a few tea products are on sale right after the harvest, and most tea products require more tea-making time.


Green tea, for example, usually goes on sale right after the harvest. In fact, in most green tea producing areas, you can purchase newly harvested tea leaves near tea fields. In a performing-like manner, tea workers use a hot pan to “kill green/杀青”, which uses heat to prevent fresh leaves from fermenting. Once they finish this step, you can pick up a green tea and start drinking it.


The end of harvest is only the beginning of a even longer tea-making process

In the world of tea, only green tea can be sold right after the tea-making. To many other teas, the end of harvest is only the beginning of the next tea-making phase.


Let’s take the iconic Wuyi oolong (Yancha) for example. Wuyi oolong is famous for being late to market. While most green tea products become available in early April, Wuyi oolong comes between July and September.


The huge time difference is not caused by different harvest dates. As a matter of fact, green tea and Wuyi oolong have only a 14-day harvest difference.


Wuyi oolong has a complex tea-making. One of the most unique feature of oolong tea is the charcoal roast. Depending on tea cultivars, most Wuyi oolong tea is roasted from 10 to 36 hours.


Because of the roast, oolong tea leaves would acquire a note of “fire”, and this smell would slowly die out.


Charcoal roasted Wuyi Oolong carries a "smell of fire", which requires "cool-down" time

In our tea-making, a tea with this “smell of fire” is considered as a working progress. Of course, a working progress cannot be presented to customers. We have to wait until this “smell of fire” cools down. Even if we expedite the “cool-down”, it generally takes more than 2 months to reach a balanced level.


Another good example is white tea products. Similar to green tea, most white tea products have a simple tea-making. The only major difference between green tea and white tea is that white tea doesn’t have a “kill green/杀青” step. In our opinion, white tea’s tea-making is even simpler than green tea’s.


However, white tea’s easy tea-making doesn’t mean white tea products appear on the market early. White tea products commonly go on sale a couple weeks after the harvest.


Fresh white tea leaves contain too much water, and it require more time to "dry"

Since white tea’s tea-making doesn’t have a heating process, fresh white tea leaves contain too much water. The excessive water in leaves may cause white tea to go “bad” in normal storage. To avoid this situation, white tea producers typically hold tea products a little longer to further getting rid of extra water content.


The delay of these tea products sometimes makes inexperienced tea business owners anxious. Some of them are afraid of missing out the first opportunity to sell the newest spring harvest. This worry is understandable but not necessary.


Not all tea products can be sold right after the harvest. The specific tea-making of each tea decides how fast a tea product goes on sale. We hope this blog can help you better understand why most tea aren’t available right after the harvest.


The tea-making of each tea decides how fast it goes on sale

As always, if you have questions or suggestions, please leave a comment, tweet us @valleybrooktea or email the author directly at zhang@valleybrooktea.com. Please also follow us on Instagram @valleybrooktea and join our mail list to get our daily tea updates and our latest promotions!


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