What does a cold spring have to do with the price of tea in China?

Longjing tea is known as the national drink of China.

Turns out, a whole lot. Apparently the cold spring has delayed the usual picking time for Longjing, an exotic Chinese tea, but made the leaves better. Both of those facts have conspired to raise the price of that type of tea by about 15 percent.

According to one of the longest and best-researched articles on the tea trade I’ve read in quite a while, Chinese businessmen buy future in Longjing tea the same way Americas buy futures in oil, and wil the same effect of driving up cost.

Longjing has been called as the national drink of China, and is served to heads of state and other dignitaries. It’s a green tea that’s fired soon after picking to stop the fermentation process which would turn it into black or oolong tea.

But this could affect more than just the price of high-end green tea. According to the People’s Daily Online article:

Spring is the crucial season for the tea business. Tea that matures then is of the highest quality thanks to low temperatures and dry conditions. Research by the China Tea Marketing Association (CTMA) shows that the trade in spring tea occupies 75 percent of the entire year by value, although it consists of only 39 percent of the year’s production by volume.

Good thing I bought that kilo of jasmine green a month ago. Looks like I might be able to resell it for a good profit soon.


About Don Seiffert

I'm a reporter and writer in the Boston area.
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2 Responses to What does a cold spring have to do with the price of tea in China?

  1. Jim Walker says:

    Hey Don, I’m not afraid to show my ignorance of teas. Do tea leaves preserve long enough that they have years, like wines do? So in a few years the 2011 Longjing would increase in value? Or is freshness the key with tea leaves?

  2. donseiffert says:

    From what I read a few are good aged but most aren’t. I’ve never bought a tea that got better with age, for sure. Here’s some link to some kind of tea that’s supposedly the “only one” that’s intentionally aged, but I feel like I’ve read about a few:


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