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'Queen of tea' losing crown amid frugality drive | Updated: 2014-04-02 14:59

Communist Party of China (CPC) leaders introduced an eight-point rule a month after they were elected in November 2012 to fight against corruption and bureaucracy. The ongoing campaign requires officials to condense meetings, reduce ceremonies and exercise thrift. Another regulation in January 2013, before the Spring Festival that year, bans officials from giving and accepting gifts, tours and banquets with the use of public cash.

Such rules started affecting high-end tea sales last year, and a series of corruption cases have further deterred officials from violating rules this year, said Yu Bohong, a commentator and observer on social issues.

Zhang Yufu, manager of a tea auction company, said the frugality rules have meant the price of high-end Longjing tea has come down to a reasonable level, which was actually good for the development of the industry.

Zhang said West Lake Longjing tea was auctioned at 360,000 yuan per kilo in 2012, 24,000 yuan higher than the price of gold at the time. Last year the tea was auctioned at between 6,000 and 14,000 yuan per kilo, and is likely to go down further this year.

Qi Guowei, who owns West Lake Longjing brand "Gong" said, "With tea as our national drink, we don't want West Lake Longjing tea to be a privilege for the few. Instead, we hope it's in the tea cups of ordinary people."

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