Tea farmers are like all farmers in that they need to manage their crops with an assortment of tools, skills, personnel and overall strategy in order to get their crops planted properly, grown healthy and harvested fully. Throughout this process there are many managing issues and complications that farmers need to be aware of in places such as Taiwan and China that cover these areas in addition to an assortment of other factors that deals with nature.
First off, tea farmers in China are more threatened by the weather than any other factor in nature. Torrential rainfalls and storms are some of the most threatening factors that can tear up soil, topple saplings over, and cause mudslides to completely capsize a fully-grown tea field grown on a specific mountain. Heavy winds may also cause the leaves to blow away or to wither while sudden temperature shifts may cause the tea trees to suddenly freeze. Additionally, too much heat can burn the leaves while soil erosion can tear apart the nutrients and Qi naturally given to the leaves. Wind can also blow pesticides from nearby farms using them to an organic farm, causing the whole crop to entirely be effected and thus unable for mass distributing to the public.
All of these factors are very difficult to control and need to be balanced by professionals who know how to react quickly to these scenarios and have a quick reaction time for solving the problems. Tea farmers plan these scenarios in advance before each season and have backup plans they teach to their tea pickers and distributors in order to prevent possible mishaps. Almost every tea farm faces these challenges at one point, and in Taiwan as well as southern China where the climates are more moist and humid, they are also more susceptible to typhoons that encompass all of these problems.
There are also another issue-nearby animals looking to prey on the tealeaves. While it surprisingly minimal in comparison with other crops, tea crops biggest enemies in the animal kingdom are rabbits and bugs. Rabbits in fact really like tealeaves before they are brewed due to their fragrant taste and because the leaves are high in caffeine. The caffeine found in a tea leave that has yet to go through fermentation or proper baking is much higher than leaves that have gone through the process, which perhaps gives rabbits in China that extra hop to their jump. Caffeine is also addictive in nature. However, there are also lots of nutrients in the leaves that rabbits enjoy coupled with the crunchy leafy taste. Insects for the same reason also stick to tealeaves and make little holes in them. Typically when this happens the leaves are not picked but some tea dealers add them to the batch in order to preserve their crops form being wasted. The quality of these leaves is usually bad and the leaves are distributed at a much lower market price than other leaves to major market retailers who use tea in tea bags.
To know whether your tealeaves have been affected you can unroll them to see if they have any holes. Also, if the leaves do not give off any scent then you know they have lost their flavor. If they have an artificial smelling aroma or taste then this is also another key facto that perhaps the tealeaves were hurt or the farmers wanted to forgo excess production to bump up profits. Whatever the reason may be, it is best to know these things about tea and determine whether your dealer is legit. Make sure to dig questions about the teas and really get to know them before tasting them. If the dealer can assure you the teas were maintained properly and haven’t suffered then you know you are in good shape.