China’s luxury tea market is the latest industry to feel the impact of China’s anti-extravagance crackdown, which has targeted maotai, shark’s fin soup, and hedonistic, lobster-gobbling officials. Jing Daily reports:
At the height of the country’s Longjing craze, according to Xinhua, the highest price fetched for the prized green tea was at $58 per gram in 2012, which was higher than the $54 per gram price of gold at the time. These days, Xinhua reports, the prices have fallen to a third of what they used to be, and generations of Longjing tea farmers who rely heavily on the windfall of the pre-Qingming tea leaves demand are left wringing their wrists in despair.
“In the past, as long as one had top-grade tea, there was no worry about selling it,” a resident in Meijiawu village, one of Longjing’s most important tea production centers, told Xinhua. “Even if a family had only 300 grams of tea, they would also be snapped up.” He also said that that customers previously lined up to buy up all their tea, but these days farmers have to “fight” for customers.
Prior to the anti-corruption campaign, the prized Longjing tea was a luxurious gift often popular with government officials. “Public funds were definitely the main driving factor behind the sales of top-grade Longjing tea,” said Jiangmei Lu, chairperson of Hangzhou Zhenghao Tea Company Limited (正浩茶叶有限公司), to Xinhua. A Longjing resident who goes by the surname Qian said that a certain bureau official from Zhejiang usually orders about 100 kilograms of high-grade tea from his family every year. “Shockingly this year,” Qian says, “he canceled his orders.”
Though as long as people are still shelling out mao for “panda poop tea,” we suspect the luxury tea industry can’t be doing too poorly.