The best teas never leave China...
“The best teas never leave China…” the myth about fine teas is by and large true.
A well crafted single origin tea enjoys a price premium not yet seen in the international markets. (e.g. a rare Wuyi rock tea retails from GBP3,000 per 500g upwards in China)
This is supported by a traditionally strong, local demand, and fine teas’ associated social status in China. A gift of precious tea is considered one of the most luxurious gifts, and represents the sender’s taste and appreciation for fine teas.
As a result, the tea industry in China (and Japan) has always predominantly been for domestic consumption, leaving the export market to remain small in comparison, and often at the lower end of spectrum in terms of quality.
In fact, the tea export industry is still young. Prior to China joining WTO in the 1980s, there was no meaningful tea trade between China and outside world. After the liberalisation of trade restrictions, tea connoisseurs soon started to “rediscover” the joys of craft teas. At Jade Tea, we were fortunate to be one of first companies to take high quality handcrafted teas outside China and we have witnessed the growing demand since our inception in 1986.
Outside China, consumers and importers are heavily reliant on a small group of local wholesalers for quality control. At Jade Tea, our direct trade approach ensures that we are sourcing the best quality teas we can get through:
1. An in-house tea evaluation team, permanently based at the source
This is quite important - having a constant ear and eyes on the ground means that we get firsthand, unfiltered news from tea growers themselves all year round.
Every batch of tea undergoes at least three separate evaluations - two at the point of origin, and one in the destination market before being handed over to our clients. All teas are tasted by our experienced in-house evaluators.
2. Working closely with partner tea farms right from the start - listening, talking, inspecting and collaborating
It's very hard to find a tea producer that clears all our standards from the start.
That is why as well as building a network of tea gardens which we have worked closely with over past 30 years, we are constantly building new relationships with talented craftspeople, exploring new terroir, and at times experimenting with new crafting methods together with local growers.
Our collaborative style of partnership has yielded some fruitful new innovative approaches to tea crafting, which have been patented in Japan and China.
3. Scale matters
Growing top quality teas requires skills and a financial commitment from the independent tea producers. Without a viable distribution channel, local artisan producers would not risk growing premium teas they may not sell. With an established channel in Japan and China, over the years; our partners continue to approach us with their best produce.