Chinese Pu'er tea set to be more affordable
BEIJING, April 13 -- Tea lovers can look forward to a more affordable pot of Pu'er, which has witnessed sharp price hikes in recent years, Kong Chuizhu, deputy governor of Yunnan province, said yesterday.
"In addition, the quality of Pu'er tea will be higher," Kong said yesterday at the opening ceremony of the fourth China Yunnan International Pu'er Tea Expo, which kicked off in Kunming, capital of the southern province.
A total of 180 companies from home and abroad are taking part in the event, which closes on Wednesday.
"The purpose of the expo is to help people further understand the quality and health benefits of Pu'er tea," Kong said.
Yunnan produced 52,800 tons of Pu'er tea last year, accounting for 31.1 percent of the province's total tea output. The province exported 1,889 tons of Pu'er last year, earning 14.69 million U.S. dollars. Yunnan came a close second to Fujian province in tea production last year.
Although the province's overall tea output in 2008 was just 1 percent less than 2007, production of Pu'er tea fell 46.7 percent last year, a decline of 462,000 tons.
Kong attributed the decrease to low temperatures and a drought in winter and spring last year.
"Pu'er tea became very popular after 2000 as more people became aware of its beneficial qualities," said Kong.
Pu'er tea, which is believed to help weight loss, grows in quality and value as it matures, leading some people to buy up large quantities. But some investors dropped out of the industry in the latter half of 2007, leading to a supply glut and a big slide in prices.
"With the adjustment of the market last year, the price has returned to a more reasonable level, but still lower than before," Kong said. "Overall, from the industry's point of view, I consider that a normal adjustment in prices."
Kong expects this year's overall tea production in Yunnan to remain lower than average due to the drought and cold temperatures in the first half of this year.
"Pu'er tea will increasingly turn from a product to collect to just a healthy drink," said Tang Keren, deputy general director of Yunnan province's agricultural department.
Pu'er was ratified as a geographic symbol product of Yunnan in June last year by the Standardization Administration of China. A national-level quality standard for Pu'er has been applied in Yunnan since Dec 1 last year.
"We are currently working on the reconstruction of low-output tea farms, the processing of organic teas, and upgrading the quality of processed tea products," Kong said.
(Source: China Daily)