An event that many devout drinkers of premium teas looks forward to is the release to the market of those pre-Qingming teas. If you’re scratching your head and going “The what?”, don’t feel bad. These teas, considered by many tea connoisseurs to be the best of the best, are little known outside of Asia and those small enclaves of the really dedicated. We’re here, in part, to change that. Knowledge is the key, so keep reading.
What Is Qingming?
This traditional Chinese holiday: Qing Ming (Tomb Sweeping Day, Clear Bright Festival — this year it is April 4th) where Chinese people honor ancestors by cleaning and sweeping their tombs. (This is also the time before the Spring rains start.)
What Are pre-Qingming Teas?
Pre-Qingming teas are picked between two important dates in the Chinese calendar:
- The Chinese New Year’s Day (this year it is February 19th) based on the lunar calendar they follow. In case you’re wondering, it will be the year of the Goat (羊, 未) in their Zodiac.
- This traditional Chinese holiday: Qing Ming (Tomb Sweeping Day, Clear Bright Festival — this year it is April 5th) where Chinese people honor ancestors by cleaning and sweeping their tombs. This is also the time before the Spring rains start, which is important to note as a factor in the flavor and quality of the teas.
Why Are pre-Qingming Teas So Different?
Tea leaves picked between these dates have unique characteristics and are said to be from a concentration of elements in the tea leaves due to them being picked before the rains (that rainy season is called “ming qian” or “pre-ming”). This concentration is said to be diluted after the rains where the leaves have soaked up a lot of water.
The plucking standard for pre-Qingming is only the bud and the two leaves directly below it on the stem or quickly snapped off for a clean break. These are considered by experts the highest-quality green teas and are prized for flavors and aromas that are often described as reminiscent of shoots and chestnuts.
[Note: there are also She Qian (teas harvested between the first day of Spring and the Spring Equinox) and Yu Qian (teas harvested before the Grain Rain Festival – April 5th to 20th).]
Prepping for Those pre-Qingming Teas
We’re prepping now for those pre-Qingming teas to come and will soon have them available on our store site for pre-order. You can prepare, too, by learning more about some of the best ones and having your plan of action, that is, your list of which to order, ready.
Some ones to consider (all handmade and most are EU Standard):
- Green Teas: West Lake Imperial or Premium Longjing (Dragonwell), Dong Ting West Mt Bi Luo Chun (Green Snail), Qiyun Mt Liu An Gua Pian (Sunflower seed slice), fine 1000 mesh Matcha, and more.
- White Teas: Imperial Fuding Silver Needle White Tea, White Peony King White Tea, Pure Old Tree Yue Guan Bai (Moon Light White) Tea, and more.
- Yellow Tea: Imperial Huo Shan Huang Ya Yellow Tea (this is a fairly rare type of tea, so varieties and quantities are usually pretty limited.
Hope you’ll get the opportunity to partake of some of these or many more. We’ll be announcing on our store site when pre-ordering will be available.