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Chinese fondness for tea travels to Laos

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-11-11 08:07
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SHANGHAI — "It would really be a pity if these centuries-old tea trees had been cut down," recalled Yuan Tian, who wore a traditional Lao dress as she prepared tea in the food and agricultural products section of the fifth China International Import Expo on Sunday.

Eight years ago, several Chinese businessmen traveling the Bolaven Plateau of Laos found to their surprise that aging tea trees were being cut down by local villagers to make way for coffee planting.

They offered to purchase the treasures.

The 36 Manor company established a factory there, taking tea leaves collected from the wild tea trees to the global market. Its business there then expanded to the growing of tea trees.

"The natural conditions in Laos are very suitable for cultivating tea trees. The brew produced by our tea trees is mellow and fragrant. A pot of our tea can survive 15 brews and still be strong," said Yuan, head of the exhibit booth and general manager of the 36 Manor.

The Laos-produced tea has quickly become popular with Chinese consumers.

"At last year's CIIE, many Chinese buyers came to our booth and the sales were good, and this year we have customers who are committed to our brand," she said.

With the launch of the China-Laos Railway, transportation costs have dropped significantly for the tea company, which has sold three to five tons of tea to China per year since 2019, she said.

As she spoke, a trading group from Yunnan Honghe county walked into the Lao ancient tree tea booth.

Chen Yonghong, who headed the group, said, "We came here specially to find the Lao booth to discuss how to make better use of the China-Laos Railway to promote cross-border trade and expand economic development cooperation."

Yuan said that due to the Belt and Road Initiative, Laos has received a lot of investment from China, which has created a large number of local jobs. Coupled with the construction and improvement of infrastructure, Laos' economic potential is gradually unfolding.

The 36 Manor company also bears in mind the motto that "teaching one to fish is better than giving him fish." Yuan said, "We not only hired local staff, but also taught the villagers how to grow tea, as a way to get out of poverty."

"In the early stages of the tea plantation, we invited tea tree experts from Jiangxi province to guide local staff and tea farmers in the conservation of tea plantations," she said.

Now, the 36 Manor has been granted an official certificate of origin in Laos. A special product of the company, made from the buds of trees more than 1,000 years old, has been selected as one of the national gifts used in Laos' diplomatic activities, becoming a "business card" representing Laos' high-quality agricultural products.

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