Teas have seasons just like other products. And often they can go on sale after their season has passed. This is true of winter coats, summer swimsuits, the remainder of the blueberry crop, those final strawberries, and lawnmowers. Financial advisors frequently advise wise consumers to take advantage of these deals. It’s a bit of a trade-off, though, where the best of the crop might be sold, leaving you with less-than-ideal choices. Still, you can pick up a nice bargain. The key is knowing what to look for — especially true with tea!
|2011 Spring Organic-certified Premium Lapsang Souchong Black Tea|
What to Look for:
- How the tea has been stored. Reputable and knowledgeable tea vendors will be sure to store teas properly to prevent air, light, heat, and moisture from affecting them adversely.
- The vendor’s overall reputation. Actually, this is probably the key to it all. A good vendor will have the best off-season teas, since they will have the best teas to begin with.
- The tea itself. Some teas just last longer than others. Black teas usually last the longest, being fully oxidized. White and green generally last the shortest. Pu-erhs are another matter altogether, since most are better with age.
Teas that Are Great Off-season Deals:
- 2011 Spring Organic-certified Premium Lapsang Souchong Black Tea — The leaves are traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires, causing the tea to take on a distinctive smoky flavor. This also means, though, that the tea will store longer. The shape of the leaves (tight, fat bud-and-two-leaves combos) also contributes to this storability. This is also a tea where you can experiment with steeping time to adjust the strength, so a bit of loss of flavor from poor storage can be made up with a little longer steep.
- 2011 Spring Mt. Wudong Imperial Da Wu Ye (big black leaf) Phoenix Dancong Oolong — The best thing about this tea is that it can be stored in the freezer to maintain its freshness. That’s a very good thing, since Dancong Oolong tea is famous for its floral (orchid) fragrance and long after sweetness. A great tea to steep in your gaiwan, it will continue to yield that thick liquid sought by tea connoisseurs long after its season (usually harvested in Spring) is over.
- Formosa Ruby Black Tea (Taiwan Tea No. 18) — Black teas are generally quite storable but care still needs to be taken. This tea, a very unique, special hybrid of a Taiwan wild mountain tea cultivar and the Myanmar tea cultivar, inherits the wild tree’s robust body and also has a natural cinnamon and slightly mint taste. Assam tea fans will find this tea very appealing, and getting it through an off-season tea deal will be even better.
Being a savvy tea shopper will save you money and get you some great teas.