Time for a haircut? Spring rain heralds the new harvest.

Newsletter Archive Mar. 26, 2021

A hazy sky above bamboo forest and dark buildings with water running out the gutters, being drenched in pouring rain.
Spring rains at the Lu Yu Tea Museum in Zhejiang.

Way out in the Pacific, a dragon just looked up from the waves and sent rain for the spring crops.

That rain found its way to the tea crops, at least. In many of China’s tea gardens this past weekend, when a warm day of sunlight finally broke through on the spring equinox, it brought an end to a solid week of downpours.

Appropriately enough, that spell of rain started on the day of the longtaitou festival, named literally “dragon raises its head,” a day to beseech the old dragon of the sea to wake up from winter slumber and send rain for your crops. It’s a festival day to nurture and guide healthy growth. Many folks celebrate that with a very practical tradition: getting a haircut. That’s sounding pretty good to me about now.

Longtaitou festival comes on the precipice for the spring tea season. While we’re waiting on spring tea, it doesn’t mean we’re without spring flowers right now. Floral, sharp and heady Dan Cong wulong from Guangdong Province is on sale this weekend. All of our remaining selection from 2020 is 20% off, that includes low-key Magnolia and decidedly high-key Yellow Sprig.

Also, to round out this month’s offerings from Yunnan, the cheapy-but-goodie mainstay black tea — the workhorse — Dianhong Gongfu is on sale at 20% off too. We like to revisit these reliable old friends at this time of year, while looking forward to the new ones we’ll soon make.

Looking down into a small porcelain teapot with its lid set aside to see infusing wulong tea leaves. Two porcelain cups filled with a portion of amber tea rest next to it.
Brewing up some of the incredibly floral Magnolia Dan Cong wulong.

For tea plants, last week’s drink of rain was just the ticket for healthy growth. Along with that warm patch of sun on the equinox, the old heirloom seed-grown tea crops in many origins are now off like a shot from a bow, budding their first leaves since winter dormancy. While early yielding varieties that flushed at the beginning of March have already been processed, the local heirloom bushes, grown from seeds, are typically the last tea plants in your field to start their buds. This is the tea that’s worth waiting for. It’s good news that their first harvests are underway this week. For us in North America, we’ll eagerly await the arrival of these teas in just a few weeks.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay tuned, and stop to smell the flowers. When the fresh tea gets here, you’ll be the first to know.

Close-up of several small, light green tea buds sprouting directly from the branches of a tea bush.
New tea buds on a Sichuan tea bush, well known for their very early flushing times.