Tea Trekker, the 2020 Spring Tea Harvest, and the Coronavirus Pandemic…


UPDATE ON THE 2020 SPRING TEA SEASON

– as of July 13, 2020 –

We have been receiving fairly steady correspondence from you, our loyal customers, checking in to confirm that we are okay.
Yes we are, thank you, and we trust that you are too.
The most important aspect of this pandemic for us is that the virus does not move by transmission within the food chain. Properly prepared food and related consumables such as tea and coffee are safe. The reason that there will likely be interruptions in availability of foodstuffs in the near term is simply one of logistics:  the inability to reserve space on a vessel for transport, or a temporary reduction in personnel at airports or docks to handle the cargo or process it through customs.

So if there is a certain tea, or type of tea, that you have been waiting for all winter, it may be time to enjoy a different, great cup of tea, and be patient…this year, your teas of choice will arrive before you know it, but they will be later-to-arrive than usual!

To follow this year’s 2020 Harvest Arrivals, this is the link:

Freshly-Harvested 2020 Spring Tea Arrivals

 

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 one day to their estimate, depending on how far West, and/or remote your delivery address is.

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 a week after it is placed, which is excellent these days!

THE 2020 EARLY SPRING TEA HARVESTS

 

A number of you have been seeking whatever information is available regarding the 2020 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:

 

DARJEELING

We have most of our 2020 Darjeeling 1st Flush black teas in stock now, or several are still en route, with the first of the 2nd Flush teas. Unfortunately the movement of these shipments is very slow because both India and Nepal are on at least partial lock down. So the early Himalaya teas will arrive when they arrive.

 

 

CHINA

 

The Qing Ming festival was celebrated in China on April 5, and the teas manufactured prior to that were only the very early ones, as in any year, tea-wise.
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 expecting a good season and year for tea, and with 80% of this year’s Chinese tea in stock now, we are very excited about the 2020 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 for the 2020 early harvest teas from China. 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 2020 teas here as quickly as possible, and that will include some surface transport, as the experts are suggesting that the backup of air traffic will likely make air transit slower than ocean freight. So 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. This year we will use whatever means that we need to, in order to receive them as soon as we can! Most shipments such as ours travel by passenger aircraft, so there will be delays due to the significant decrease in those flights this year.

Our hope is that by the middle-to-end of summer we will be up to a full selection of 2020 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 be sending out e-newsletters during April, May, and June, and putting updates on the ‘Freshly-Harvested 2020 Spring Tea Arrivals‘ page.
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