Autumn Snow "Duck Shit"
For tea, an “Autumn harvest” refers to the period about a week before and a week after the solar term Cold Dew. Very experienced tea craftsman used to say that, if there is a sunny day with a northern wind, the autumn harvest tea will have the scent of orchids.
The North winds at this time of year bring coolness and the temperature difference between day and night increases, meaning the tea leaves grow more slowly. The dry, autumn air makes the water in the tea leaves ferment more steadily after they are picked. For these reasons, autumn harvest teas have smooth mouthfeel and a complex, concentrated fragrance – one often described as “cold.”
It is true: tea harvested and crafted during this time has a special "snow flavor," and the concentrated sweetness that belongs to most things that grow during the winter. They feel like walking in the snow while grains of rock sugar dissolve on your tongue.
This Autumn Snow “Duck Shit” comes from Mr. Fu’s family, who have been residents of Qipan Village on Dazhi Mountain of the Phoenix Mountains for generations, raising bees and growing tea. The tea garden is at 1600 ft elevation, and their tea trees are between 50-60 years old. This year’s Autumn Snow was harvested 20 days earlier than previous years as the area went through drought in the summer, which meant less tea buds for the autumn harvest. The tea is crafted traditionally, patiently allowing enough oxidation to take place before it is roasted over charcoal.
This tea is icy. It seems to capture winter’s aesthetic – both the season’s austerity and reductive qualities, as well as its excessive glitteryness. Its aroma is complex, but subtle, and it lingers for a long time in the front of the mouth, between the teeth and the lips. Its mineral structure etches cool lines on the palate; you can imagine it like the marks skating leaves on a frozen lake.
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