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I have been staying in Yunnan since 31st of March. I have visited a few mountains to survey the condition of many tea gardens, and I have met my tea manufacturers to gather the first-hand information of 2018 tea.

The altitude is very important element for quality

We are now staying in a town located at the South West of Yunnan. This place is part of Lincang and it is nearby Zhenkang county. From Kunming, i.e., the capital of Yunnan, it usually takes two days to reach here. In Lincang, there are many mountains and villages located at altitude above 2000m. Based on our experience, the high altitude is the very important factor to find good tea. In addition, many tea gardens in Lincang are kept in ecological environment without using pesticide or fertilizer. For us, here is the paradise of tea.

The season of tea varies every year

The season of tea plucking varies every year. It is said that the timing of agricultural product is closely following the lunar calendar. As we live in the world of solar calendar, it is quite natural that the timing varies every year to come. In addition, the amount of rainfall after Chinese New Year affects the growth of tea. This is another reason why sometimes it is hard to anticipate the timing of tea plucking.

Tea tree at lower altitude at around 1500m (slightly fertilized)

The price of Yunnan tea in 2018

Last year, there was very less rain after Chinese New Year until the end of March. It was very cold weather too. In addition, rain started from mid of April and continued until the end of May. Due to these situations, the total production of spring tea in last year was nearly 1/3 of regular years.
This year, although it is very dry weather, in general the temperature is warmer than last year. As a result, the output of tea this year should be higher than last year. However, the price of spring tea in 2018 seems a little higher than last year. Based on my survey, in some areas, it is about 20-30% higher. It is partly due to the expectation of manufacturers that they are hoping to earn back what they missed last year.
We have also visited many tea gardens to counter check the price of fresh tealeaf. It seems that the selling price of fresh tealeaf does not increase a lot, although some of them told us that they managed to sell at 10% higher. I assume that the price may slowly come down once a lot tea is coming up.

However, the price of the wild tea has never come down. Due to the increasing demand of the wild black tea, many people are collecting the material. As a result, the price of wild tea continuously increasing.

Usually younger tree grows faster

The later it is produced, the better the quality.

In Lincang, the plucking of pu-erh tea has already begun. In China, the green tea plucked before Qing Ming (5th of April this year) is called Ming Qian tea (明前茶) and it is greatly valued by people. Many people have the same concept on pu-erh tea too. They thought that the earlier the better. We often run into tea merchants who strongly believe in Ming Qian tea too.
However, in regards of pu-erh tea, the earlier-plucked tea means tea is from lower altitude and of younger tea trees. In addition, the fertilized tea grows so much faster than natural farming tea. We are interested in tea from older tea trees that are grown above 2000m, and those trees that are completely left in natural environment. These teas are only available later in two to three weeks’ time. Sometimes, the very first plucking of old tea tree from high altitude is only available by the end of April.

It is too late if we come to Yunnan during the season

From many years of experience, we have learned that the pre-booking is the must for us to secure the quality teas. Moreover, most of our teas are custom-made teas; these teas are produced according to the parameter and materials that we have selected and specified. So, it is very important for us to come to Yunnan before tea season start and conduct thorough discussion with tea manufacturers. In addition, it is a trend of Yunnan people that their engine only starts when they meet us face to face.

The withering process of Da Xue Shan Wild White Tea.
The quality will be ideal this year as we have made some improvements.

Besides the discussion with manufacturers, we also need to take care of wild tea and single bud tea as its production is now at the peak. We have been running through and forth to monitor the process and to confirm the quality.

We have already completed the production of Da Xue Shan Wild Raw Pu-erh Tea. I am very happy with the outcome this year.

We wish to improve the speed of compression

This year we are wishing to speed up the process of tea compression. We plan to proceed for compression within a week or two as soon as the mao-cha is completed. With this improvement, we should be able to keep very fresh flavour of tea. So, I think it is very important to attend the compression of every kind of tea we purchase. Only when the last cake of tea is shipped out, then we will be able to leave here.

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