Harvest time is important in tea cultivation in China -- home to one of the biggest and oldest agricultural economies in the world. Like fruits and vegetables, tea is a crop. And as any tea lover knows, there are peak seasons and dormant season for every variety. Green tea is only picked in Spring right before the Chinese season known as Qing Ming (around April 5th). In fact, best green teas are known as ‘Before Qing Ming Tea’ for the very first and youngest buds plucked during this time. A bit unusual, our hand picked natural white tea Han Lu from China harvests in winter, and and it's a hidden gem of white tea you may have never tried or heard of!
The Twin Sister of Shou Mei
Unlike Silver Needle and Bai Mu Dan which are also only picked in Spring, Shou Mei boasts two other harvest seasons—Fall and Winter. Teas from these two seasons are called Bai Lu (White Dew) and Han Lu (Cold Dew), respectively, and are compared to beautiful twin sisters, similar in appearance but quite different otherwise. Our focus today will be Han Lu.
Winter Han Lu (Cold Dew)
Han Lu (Cold Dew) is named after the Chinese winter season which begins around October 8th. Picking tea in winter is generally not advised. But since Han Lu is plucked early in the season, rather than late December, there is still time for the tea trees to regenerate in time for Spring’s harvest.
Tea trees in the Han Lu season endure colder and longer nights with less sunshine. Their post-production tea leaves are mostly green with some copper and orange leaves. As you might expect, their tea liquors are greener. Often times, tea lovers in China will choose to set Han Lu aside and allow it to age for at least a couple of years before consumption. Precisely for this reason, white teas usually hold a collective value similar to Pu Er. However, we believe it would be rather difficult to set it aside once you have tried the fresh Han Lu!
Aroma and Taste
Han Lu’s aroma and taste are quite different from other white teas. It’s reminiscent of morning air after a snowfall with a fresh, grassy/floral aroma that is like a combination of gardenia flower and magnolia flower with a light touch of jasmine. It’s very delicate, elegant and always manages to bring more surprises to people’s palate.
When summer hits, Han Lu makes one of the most refreshing cold brewed tea, and its silver green leaves already bring coolness in the sight. To make a cold brew, simply use about 5-6 grams of tea, add 400-450ml water either in a tumbler or a glass teapot (recommended), and let the tea steep for about 40 minutes to an hour. You can test the flavor at about 40 minutes mark to make sure it's not over steeped. However because Han Lu is already very delicate and sweet, it doesn't really become bitter or astringent even if it's over steeped. Enjoy your sweet dews also in summer!