East China Drought Affecting Longjin Geen Tea Harvest
Whilst parts of China are suffering extreme flooding, others are experiencing drought conditions. Early in 2014, tea gardens in the East of China (in Hangzhous, Huzhou and Lishui provinces in particular) suffered ‘severe stress’ last summer according to officials from the Provincial Agricultural Department in East China’s Zhejiang province. Tea trees are already withered from months of dry weather and temperatures in excess of 40C and the dry start to the year is not helping.
The most lucrative harvest for the tea growers is the first picking of the year, however, with the drought, leaves will be smaller and fewer but still have the excellent early season flavour.
The usual worry with a poor first harvest is that tea prices will increase. Indeed, several years ago, during similar conditions, the price of a kg of the early harvest green tea was higher than the price of gold!
The China Daily has predicted that this year’s drought conditions will not lead to significantly higher Longjing (Lung Chin) prices. Shang Jiannong, president of Hangzhou Xihu District Longjing Tea Industry Association stated that the worst affected trees last year were thos which were newly planted. Established trees survived OK and it is they who will be harvested. Despite this, some growers are predicting yields of only about one third of normal levels.
It has also been reoported that growers made more of an effort to improve irrigation systems in order to try to protect this valuable harvest.
At the moment, all we can do is wait and see what happens as news filters though.