Tea Trekker, the 2021 Spring Tea Harvest, and the Coronavirus Pandemic…Year Two

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UPDATE ON THE 2021 TEA SEASON
We are excited that the new tea season (2021) is in full swing, with many of the early teas now in stock, and more arriving all the time.
For those of us who love green tea, we have a good selection of our amazing Japanese Green teas (some are even on sale) and
the new harvest Chinese green teas are arriving daily.
If you are looking for this year’s harvest tea then be sure to check the upper left corner of a tea’s image to find the ‘2021’ disc.
What is important to know, and that is why we repeat it every year, is that just because a tea’s leaf is harvested early does not make it delicious or, most importantly, worth the swollen prices that the first tea pickings often command.
We patiently wait until the leaf is at the perfect time for the type of tea that will be made from the leaf being plucked, and then jump into the ring to procure that tea.
So it is basically true that every year the teas arrive in a different order, and not all at the same time, or even at a predictable time.

This is a big part of the reason that we do not offer pre-ordering. We do not sell any tea until we have it in inventory and have tasted it to confirm that it meets the standard of the sample that we selected from, and shows the taste that we expect.

That being said, we expect that this year will be much like last year in that the 2021 spring teas will arrive over a longer time window than some other years, so a good way to build up an order to get no-charge shipping is to include some of the Japanese or Nepal greens, which have a third to a half a year of excellent drinking still.
We are definitely out of stock on all the teas from 2020 that do not hold well; and feel very good about the flow of the 2020 season.
In spite of having had more challenges last year than perhaps ever in our many years of tea sourcing (47 years!) you were all very patient and ultimately I think most everyone received the tea that they love, even if it was a little later in the year than normal.

To follow this year’s 2021 Harvest availability, this is the link:

Freshly-Harvested 2021 Spring Tea Arrivals

(be sure to read the section on how to use this sort)

and of course there are many teas on our website from other years that are drinking perfectly now
(such as those black teas and oolongs that require a rest).

 

OUT-GOING SHIPPING:

We are currently shipping out your current purchases on a very-close-to-normal schedule; however, in some instances there will be a modest delay in shipping due to particular days of the week, adjustments to pickup and delivery schedules, and other minor nuisances. But basically our out-going parcels are transporting very nicely. The U.S. Postal Service has advised us that in general their estimates of delivery times are inaccurate right now, so add at least two days (or more) to their estimate, depending on how far West, and/or remote your delivery address is.

Since mid-November 2020 it has not been uncommon for packages to require up to two weeks to arrive (from the time we ship, not the time that you order!) But in general, the Postal Service has been much faster during the last month or two.

Our busiest time for incoming orders is Sunday and Monday. We continue to be consistently able to ship all orders that have arrived before Tuesday morning either on the Tuesday or the Wednesday Priority Mail postal truck pickups. This means that most of you will receive your order about ten days after it was placed, which is excellent these days!

 

THE 2021 EARLY SPRING TEA HARVESTS

 

A number of you have been seeking whatever information is available regarding the 2021 early spring harvests of tea in East and South Asia. This includes some of the early pre-Qing Ming and Yu Qian green teas (the ‘Spring Green Teas‘), the 1st Flush Darjeeling black teas, the Mengding Mountain Huang Ya (our main yellow tea), and other teas. This is what is known at this point:

All of our Green teas from the early Spring Tea harvest have been sampled and ordered, and more than half have arrived, with many sold out already !

 

DARJEELING

– June 5, 2021 –

We are still waiting for our 1st Flush 2021 Darjeeling tea shipment to arrive.
FedEx U.S. and FedEx India have been unable to successfully match up their paperwork to allow our shipment (and many others) to transit from India to the U.S., and recently both countries Customs Offices have compounded the problems.
Our Darjeeling Tea has been ‘in transit’ now for 7 weeks, having actually arrived in Indianapolis only to be sent back to Delhi due to ‘technical problems’ with the FedEx India paperwork. 

We will have 2021 Darjeeling tea as soon as this situation is sorted between FedEx U.S. and FedEx India.
They thank you for your patience.

In 45+ years of business I cannot remember such a bungled shipping mess! I am just grateful that tea is not perishable…

 

 

CHINA

As you know from following the harvest in years past, the principal months for spring tea arrivals here in the US are late April, May, and June. The vast majority of premium China spring green tea is harvested during the body of April into May, with Japan following in June & July. This generally means that we receive most of these teas in the beginning of May through July. Therefore, many of these teas have been or still are right on schedule.

We are definitely in the middle of a good season and year for tea, and we are very excited about the 2021 season.

 

Spring Tea

 – ‘personal separation’ is easy in many Chinese tea gardens –

 

A note about the relationship of a virus to tea:

 – a modern tea factory in Japan

 

Because some of you have asked, the manufacture that tea needs, to change from fresh leaf to shelf stable tea, requires that heat (hotter than is necessary to kill off any virus or bacteria) needs to be applied at numerous different times, and there are also several times when the leaf or the semi-finished tea needs to ‘sit’ for a length of time. All of these normal steps mean that there is not now and never has been any problem with the consumption of tea during or following the several world-wide episodes that we have had this century (seasonal flu, SARS, bird flu, swine flu, etc).

Detailed information about the manufacture and processing of camellia sinensis from leaf to tea can be found in our award-winning book, The Story of Tea, A Cultural History and Drinking Guide (Ten Speed Press 2007), which is available in book (hard and soft cover), Kindle, and audio formats.

 

 – freshly-picked leaf for oolong, resting in Taiwan

 

We here at Tea Trekker are quite interested in keeping you healthy, and Tea Trekker tea will continue to play a part in our collective healthy food habit.

– I taste and personally drink every tea that we source and sell to you  –

 

THE TEA SEASON OVERVIEW

 

The early spring tea that we source is usually available from us here in Massachusetts two to three days after it is available in Shanghai or Hong Kong. This will not be true again for the 2021 early harvest teas from China due to shipping delays. We do not normally ship our early tea by surface (ocean vessel) to avoid the somewhat normal 30-40-60 day+ transport ‘lag time’ added onto a tea’s availability that most tea merchants do. This year we will be using a very creative assortment of shipping methods to get our 2021 teas here as quickly as possible, and we will use the best means available when an individual or group of teas is ready to ship.
The peak months for Spring tea here at Tea Trekker are May and June, by the time the tea is harvested, manufactured, packaged, clears Chinese inspections and customs, and then flies over and is processed through USDA, FDA, and U.S. Homeland Security.  We don’t have all the Spring teas come over together. The big companies still operate the way we did in the ’80s & ’90s – they hold the teas as they become available (in Asia) and consolidate the harvests together and ship by ocean vessel, but then the teas don’t arrive here until Sept/Oct.
We have been shipping our early season teas by air since 2003 in an effort to receive the Spring teas as early as possible, especially since we wait for the batches that we like best. This year we will use whatever means that we need to, in order to receive them as soon as is appropriate for each specific tea! Most moderately-sized shipments such as ours travel by passenger aircraft, so there will be delays due to the significant decrease in those flights again this year.

Our hope is that by the middle-to-end of summer we will be up to a full selection of 2021 Tea: green, black, oolong, white, and yellow.

THE TEA TIMELINE

 

We have several timelines that we have developed over the years that can be linked to from here.
These may assist you with your current and future decision-making:
We will send out e-newsletters during April, May, and June, and post updates on the ‘Freshly-Harvested Spring Tea Arrivals‘ page.
We hope this all helps!!
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