Tea Developments, Monthly Report April 2013

Here’s a quick look at some tea developments that may not necessarily be new but are still not in the mainstream of tea drinkers’ awareness.

Post-Qingming harvesting is now complete (Photo source: stock image)
Post-Qingming harvesting is now complete (Photo source: stock image)

Tea Harvests Progress

First flush teas are generally harvested in March and April, depending on their location. In China: Pre-Qing teas are harvested from about March 30th through April 5th, so they are done now; the mid-April (Yu Qian) teas are finishing up; Gu Yu and Li Xia teas will be getting underway from about April 30th through May 31st. In India: Darjeeling first flush teas have pretty much finished and shipped to vendors, Assam first flush is done with the second flush (what those “tippy” Assams are made of) is growing as you read this. In Japan, most regions will be starting harvest soon (usually the end of April through early May).

If you like those really fresh teas, keep these dates in mind when ordering from your favorite tea vendor. Some are already pre-announcing the expected arrivals of these new teas (not to be confused with new tea products added to the vendor’s site).

Bottled Tea Sales

Sure we here in the U.S. drink bottled tea year round, but it seems to be more in warmer weather than in cooler. And projections look rosy for bottled tea makers as more Americans dump the cola in favor of that tea. Black, green, oolong, and white in both flavored and straight versions are filling grocery store shelves, but not for long as buyers rush in to stock up. Flavors include lemon, peach, raspberry, and citrus, plus some less common ones like pineapple, apple, mint, strawberry, and chocolate.

Job Opportunities at Tea Gardens

With the change from hand-picked to machine harvesting in some tea growing countries such as Kenya a few years ago, jobs at tea gardens have also changed from rows of women out in among the tea plants to more skilled workers driving the harvesters. They also need other semi-skilled workers. For example, Unilever, a large-scale tea grower with a presence in various countries, had an ad online recently looking for drivers in Kenya to drive the lorries carrying harvested tea leaves to the processing plant. Other positions become available as harvesting times kick in.

That’s it for this month. Will see what next month brings.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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