The world of tea is very active and always has something happening, even during dormant periods. This being late May, however, there is a lot going on.
Tea Harvests Progress
First flush tea harvests are complete, with many of these already being sold out. (They are generally harvested in March and April, depending on their location. In China, Pre-Qing teas, harvested from about March 30th through April 5th, are done as are the mid-April (Yu Qian) teas.)
Gu Yu (the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 30°, April 20) teas, plucked from April 21st to May 6th, are done. Li Xia teas, plucked from May 7th until May 21st, have just finished being harvested. Watch for these to be available for purchase.
A great gu yu tea is Long Jing (Dragonwell). This one was harvested in 2011 but has been carefully stored to preserve its fresh flavor.
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. The second flushes are underway.
In Japan, most regions are nearing the end of the harvest (usually the end of April through early May).
Bottled Tea Sales
As the weather turns warmer in much of the U.S., sales of bottled teas are increasing. 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.