If you're looking around for some new premium grade teas to try out, you're in the right place.
来源：Austin Yoder 2013/10/26 发表于 The News Lens 关键评论网
Photo Credit: 陈镜 CHEN-CHING 翻译／红凯利
为什么呢？由于下了一整星期的雨，2012年冬季收采的铁观音，叶子或多或少都被泡烂，且过多水分残留在叶子上会稀释叶子本身的味道。就像是葡萄酒生产商Spriggs of Nyetimber为了酒厂名声以及酿酒的质量，而决定放弃2012年收获的葡萄，即便这使得他们丧失上百万美元的销售额。同样的原因，2012冬季出产的木栅铁观音就这样被放弃了。
The Story of How Our Favorite Oolong Tea (Muzha Tieguanyin) Ran Out
Good things come in small quantities. Or, at least, that's the case when it comes to tea.
David and I recently ran out one of our favorite teas, the Spring 2012 Muzha Tieguanyin. And when I say "all of it" I mean there's nothing left of it.
All of our in-store stock, all of our personal stock, everything is gone and we can never get it back.
We rated this tea at 98 points out of 100, our highest tea rating ever. This was one of my personal favorite teas ever and as such I wanted to share the story of how and why it sold out. A fond farewell, if you will.
Big Picture on Taiwan Tea
To understand how and why our 2012 Muzha Tieguanyin sold out, we need to take a look at the tea industry in Taiwan as a whole.
There were over 17 million kilograms exported out of Taiwan in 2011 alone, a market value of over USD $230m according to Taiwan's Ministry of Agriculture. (Though this data is not 100% accurate, it gives a fair idea of the overall volume of tea exported out of Taiwan.)
While 17 million kilograms of tea sounds like a lot, a large percentage of this tea is 'beverage' grade tea. The type of tea that goes into making bottled tea drinks found in convenience stores like 7-11, or large retail outlets like Costco. Another large percentage of that 17 million kilograms of tea is low-medium grade loose leaf tea.
What Is 'Beverage' Grade Tea?
Beverage grade tea – bottled iced green tea from 7-11 in Taiwan Beverage grade tea is made from the dust and fannings, stems, and leaf particulate created while processing higher quality loose leaf tea. When loose leaf tea is processed in bulk in factories with industrial machinery, it gets passed over different conveyor belts, passed through different drying racks and sorted by blowing air over the tea leaves (which separates them by weight).
In all of this blowing and bumping about, the tea leaves break down some. Little pieces of leaf fall off the full tea leaf.
Because this tea is the byproduct of producing and packaging higher quality loose leaf tea it is extraordinarily cheap. The low price of this leafy byproduct is the reason you can pop into a convenience store in Taiwan and pick up a bottle of 'iced green tea beverage' for less than one US dollar.
What is Low-Medium Grade Tea?
Low-medium grade loose leaf tea is bulk tea. While it is still loose leaf tea, and it is still pleasant enough to drink from time to time, it's like the difference between a McDonalds hamburger (bulk, low quality) and a gourmet burger like the 777 burger made with Kobe beef and Maine lobster at Pairs Las Vegas.
The difference between low-medium grade tea is the difference between something you simply drink, and something that is an experience, something that creates a story you can share with your friends and family.
High Quality, Premium Grade Teas
High quality, truly premium-grade teas in Taiwan are sometimes only produced in quantities of 20 – 30 kilograms per season, or per year. This means that many premium teas in Taiwan are produced in quantities lower than 100 kgs per year. To give you an idea of how much (little) 100 kgs is, see this kind of scrawny dude deadlift 100 kgs on Youtube.
For example, only about 20 kgs of the super premium Dayuling Oolong Tea we secured from the Winter 2012 harvest was ever produced. Local Taiwan tea drinkers bought half of it up two days after it went on the market, and within one week, it was entirely sold out.
When local consumers in Taiwan know exactly the day of the month when the best quality premium tea is going to be released into the market and there's only 20 kgs of it produced for the entire year, it's easy to see why many premium grade teas from Taiwan are simply lost to the rest of the world. They almost never stand a chance of being seen outside of Taiwan.
They are "lost teas," if you will.
Sold Out: Muzha Tieguanyin
With this big picture on Taiwan Tea in mind, let's bring it back to our Muzha Tieguanyin.
Our Muzha Tieguanyin was from the Spring 2012 crop, and less than 60 kgs of it was ever produced. It had amazing notes of smoke, caramel, great tannins, and even some strawberry or cranberry action going on. Because this tea was so unique, it was my personal favorite tea of the whole year.
Ordinarily, we wouldn't have sold out of our Tieguanyin at all, because there is a Winter crop of Tieguanyin produced in Muzha every year. Usually, this Winter crop will produce similar quality raw tea leaves that artisanal producers can use to make outstanding premium gradeMuzha Tieguanyin.
This year's Winter 2012 crop of Muzha Tieguanyin was not up to par.
It was raining the entire week that farmers harvested their Winter 2012 Tieguanyin, making the leaves somewhat bloated with water, diluting heir flavor. Just like Wine Maker Cherie Spriggs of Nyetimber decided to forego the entire 2012 harvest of grapes and miss out on millions of dollars in sales in order to preserve the quality and reputation of the Nyetimber winery, the artisanal producers we work with decided to forego the entire crop of Winter 2012 Muzha Tieguanyin.
This seemingly insignificant thing, the fact that it rained for the whole week the tea leaves were being harvested, negatively affected the entire crop. As such, we had no super premium Muzha Tieguanyin to sell from the Winter 2012 harvest. All we could do through the new year was sit back and watch as we sold out of all of our remaining
Spring 2012 crop, and all of our personal supply.
Now, there's simply none of it left, and we sadly won't be able to sell any more of it (worse yet, drink any of it) until the Spring 2013 crop rolls around in March. Almost two full months without Muzha Tieguanyin, assuming that the Spring 2013 crops are up to snuff.
Why Write This Post?
I'm not writing this post to be alarmist or to say that no other good quality Muzha Tieguanyin exists on the whole island of Taiwan. I'm writing this post just to emphasize one of the sad realities of premium tea for those out there who enjoy drinking it as much as I do:
When you find a tea that knocks your socks off, there may not be very much of it around. If you truly enjoy a tea and want to be able to drink it for a few months out of the year, or give it as a gift to your friends, family, clients etc., you may have to consider buying it in relatively large quantities while supplies last. Because, sadly, once it's gone it's simply gone, and there's no getting it back. There is no guarantee that next season's crop (just like yearly variation in wine) will be of comparable quality.
If you're looking around for some new premium grade teas to try out, you're in the right place. Although our Muzha Tieguanyin is entirely sold out until (hopefully) Spring 2013, we still have a range of other premium grade teas available through our online tea store, which you can browse through here.
Question of the Day
What do you do when you run out of your favorite tea (or wine)?
Sourse：Austin Yoder 2013/10/26 The News Lens
Photo Credit: CHEN-CHING 陈镜