Rare Retail Opportunity for Premium Chinese Tea

Qing Ming Tea Chinese Tea

Qing Ming Tea

The ancient Chinese celebration of Qing Ming (Apr. 5) has grown in importance to North American retailers marketing first flush Chinese teas.

This year provides a unique opportunity to please sophisticated customers at the lowest prices in decades. Demand for pre-QingMing Longjing green teas that topped the price of gold last April, has plummeted in response to a concerted government effort to encourage frugality. Last year growers made headlines when a kilo of West Lake Longjing sold for $57,000, according to China National Radio. The 10,000 Yuan increase over the previous year’s pricing brought the cost to $4000 more than the price of gold. This extravagance is precisely why the market has changed.

China Post predicts dramatic decline in demand (40%) and falling prices this year. “In 2012, the average price of premium West Lake Longjing tea she sold to wholesalers was about 14,000 Yuan per kg,” according to Li Yu, a grower in Xihu district in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

“This year, however, orders for costly tea gift boxes have fallen by 40 percent,” Li told China Post.

West Lake Longjing Chinese Tea

West Lake Longjing

The Global Times reports “prices for famed brews, including West Lake Longjing and Biluochun, have slumped significantly amid the nationwide campaign against extravagance and surging production of imitation boutique teas. Instead of ushering in a business boom in tea trading, sales of spring teas have plummeted in the lead up to this year’s Qingming Festival.”

“This year prices tumbled for the famous Hangzhou brew and other boutique teas by 10 to 20 percent,” according to Wang Qing, deputy director of the China Tea Marketing Association (CTMA). Teas produced in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, suffered the sharpest drop of 30 percent, Wang told the Global Times.

In the states, Tea Trekker’s Pre-Qing Ming Yunnan Sweet Green Threads and Sweet White Threads are selling for $17.50 for 4oz.

“Seasonality in tea is important. Tea enthusiasts are beginning to understand that some teas are plucked in only one season of the year, which is usually spring,” write co-owners Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss.

For many Chinese tea enthusiasts, green teas plucked early in the spring have flavor and aroma that is superior, according to Heiss.

Sources: China Post, Global Times, and Tea Trekker