First Flush Chinese Longjing Tops Price of Gold

HANGZHOU, China

A pre-Qingming Longjing brought $57,000 per kilo — about $4,000 more than the price of gold — in a sale this week, according to China National Radio.

Zhu Baichang, a dealer who sold the tea at the record price in the presale, said most of this year's harvest of West Lake pre-Qingming Longjing tea would cost 80,000 yuan per kilogram on the market, an increase of 10,000 yuan from last year.

"The 360,000 yuan per kilogram for the pre-Qingming tea was just a single case for presale promotion and we will donate the money to a local art group for deaf people," Zhu said. However, he said that the market price was still too much for "normal" people to afford.

Spring teas are the most lucrative harvest in China accounting for 75 percent of annual sales, according to the China Tea Marketing Association. These teas make up only 39 percent of the year's production by volume.

Spring Snail or Melon Seed, will be as high as 20,000 yuan per 500 grams, according to Huang Xiaoping, vice-chairman of the tea association in Chun'an County, Hangzhou city

Huang and others in Chun'an managed to advance the picking time by one month this year and sold their early Qiandao jade leaves, a roasted green tea similar to Longjing, in February at prices of 5,000 yuan to more than 10,000 yuan per 500 grams.

He told the People’s Daily that it is not a surprise that West Lake Longjing went for such a high price – higher even than gold.

"It enjoys the highest status among China's famous teas, mainly due to its long history and literary connections. Furthermore, it is now grown in a designated area around the West Lake, so the output is limited," he said.

People spend hundreds of yuan on a kilogram of normal Longjing tea, according to Zhu. The more expensive tea was bought by university, government and military officials as gifts, according to the radio report.

Longjing tea harvested prior to the April 5 Qingming Festival is more expensive because it is produced from the very tender first spring shoots. It requires skilled workers to pick every leaf by hand.

Top-quality Longjing will be sold at 40,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan per 500 grams this year, about 25 percent higher than last year.

Source: People’s Daily, China National Radio

 

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