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China’s spring tea production down due to snowfall

Reporter: Wu Haojun 丨 CCTV.com

03-27-2016 06:12 BJT

Because of unexpected snowfall during the early spring in tea-producing areas such as the eastern province of Zhejiang, there has been a dramatic reduction in the amount of early spring tea available, though their prices have remained largely unchanged. 

While coffee is clearly growing on the Chinese, especially among the young, tea still rules supreme. And among the hundreds of different varieties that are enjoyed daily in China, early spring tea is said to trump them all. 

Picked right after the break of spring, and during a very narrow window, it is something Chinese tea lovers are willing to shell out big bucks for, and bigger yet this time around. 

“The early spring tea harvest in and around Hangzhou lasted just three days, because of the unexpected snowfall. And it’s caused a dramatic drop in the output of early spring tea this cycle in our area,” said Hu Biru, tea company employee.

Early spring tea is as delicate as all things extraordinary and beautiful come. Weather that is a little too hot or too cold may drastically change the flavor of the tea. And in China, where the consumption of tea goes back thousands of years, drinking tea has become a culture and a science that allows no mediocrity. 

“The tea leaves that have been affected by the cold weather, they are tarnished goods and can't be sold, even if they are still drinkable. The tea farmers will just save them for their own consumption.”

Tea producers in China’s eastern Zhejiang province say total production of early green tea has dropped by about 30 percent as a result of this year’s harsh spring, and prices for the already much coveted variety are shooting up. 

But this time it is not the end-consumers who are paying for the bad weather, a trip around the tea shops in the Chinese capital reveal that the prices of early spring tea have hardly been touched. It turns out in China, where almost everyone is a tea drinker, cultivating brand loyalty is more important for tea companies than short-term profits. 

“Tea companies have all decided to accept a lower profit margin instead of moving the additional cost to consumers, mostly likely in a bid to maintain their share of the market,” said Lou Guozhu, certified tea evaluator.

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