Not every tea trip is a success. Sometimes it goes wrong at every turn. I went back to 猴谷in hopes of catching some tea picking and making. On the way to the village, I stopped by some plants that had buds ready to be picked as well as places where you could see the buds had been.
Upon reaching the village I only found one woman picking tea in her backyard garden. Everyone else was out in the mountain fields picking tea. A few days early another Mao Feng farmer had explained to me that a red tint to bark and a large bush were signs of pesticides and/or fertilizers. When a bush is subjugated to fertilizers it grows extra big. You can tell by finding where the tea tree was trimmed the season before and looking at how far the tree has grown past that. This is new information for me so I am still understanding it. As I walked through a garden I happened to stumble upon a bottle of pesticides. It’s important to know that just because a tea leaf has bug bites does not mean it is organic. Pesticides are not a magical barrier, bugs get through.
After looking around fields, and looking for farmers in what was a completely quiet village, a wechat contact I was talking to the day before told me his wife was back from the field and would come to get me on her scooter. She picked me up, asked if I had had lunch, and took me to her home. It was only then did I realize it was the wrong family. This was a family I visited last season but didn’t like the tea. I stayed for a little and was able to taste a little fresh tea and learn a bit about the machines she uses to make.
As I looked at the tea she had made yesterday I could see it was too small of picks. The Qing Ming pick date does not apply to Mao Feng. Around Qing Ming, many teas are only starting to pick and are too small to produce a full flavor. I suspect many farmers pick tea this early to fill a demand and to make a few extra bucks. (Ironically these early picks sells for the highest price) In the end, I decided to go home early. I am writing this the night before I leave to a new location 大谷云, and will have a fresh new video next week.