Tea Harvesting Timeline (seasonality in tea)
Seasonality in tea is very important. Taiwan has 4 tea seasons.
Taiwan has nearly perfect weather for oolong tea production and tea makers there create famous oolongs in several different shapes, styles and flavors. As the seasons of the year progress in Taiwan, the leaf changes in nature and size; and while one tea finishes production for the year, another one is just beginning. Different oolong teas appear in the market throughout the year, creating an ever-changing selection of seasonal offerings.
Different teas are coming in each season. They are:
Spring tea with leafy oolong and semi-ball-rolled oolong teas. This tea (picked middle March-early May) really tastes like newly-picked tea with full body and spring vitality.
Summer with standard grade oolong teas (picked early May-early August). As abundant leaves can be harvested, the price is very reasonable.
Autumn tea with its semi-ball-rolled oolong, and high mountain oolong teas (picked early September-middle October). This is the season when high-quality tea can be obtained at relatively reasonable price.
Winter with small quantities of high mountain oolong teas (picked early November to late December). Quality tea superior balance of taste.
The first oolong teas to come to market each Spring are the leafy styles of Bai Hao or Oriental Beauty, and Bao Zhong. These tea plants grow in warmer climates and at lower level elevations. They are followed by the mid-elevation and high-elevation mountain-grown oolong teas such as Dong Ding and then later still by the high mountain oolong teas from the highest tea gardens: Ali Shan, Li Shan, and Shan Lin Shi. High mountain oolong teas can be harvested in Winter capturing a very concentrated essence of flavor in the late-harvest leaves.
Winter teas are rich, creamy, and very aromatic. Spring tea brings the feeling of happiness and of youth and the flush of a new season to its flavor while winter tea is more assured tranquility. After their summer resting period, these tea bushes, grew by constant daily moisture from clouds and mist that develops in the afternoon, produce large, juicy, leaves that experienced hands turn into the deepest and fullest tasting teas of the year. The tea bushes will soon be ready to enter their winter dormant period, but for now they still have good energy for this last seasonal production.
The winter harvest and the spring harvest are the two most important harvests of the year – the summer and autumn harvests do not provide premium oolong tea, although the summer is the time for a small quantity of excellent black teas to be made.
The flavors of oolong teas change dramatically as from season to season, also from year to year. This is mainly due to the weather conditions at the time of harvest. The cooler temperatures and seasonal fog result in a more succulent leaf.
2013 winter oolongs and 2014 oolongs were very good in taste due to cold and wet weather.