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Early tea on the way

This year's spring tea is expected to go on the market on Wednesday in large quantities and the price will remain the same as last year, the Shanghai Tea Association said yesterday.

The recent sunny weather has helped tea buds grow quickly. Farmers have started to pick teas of some early-maturing species but more will come on to the market later, according to a report issued by the association.

Tea picking started yesterday in more than 60 hectares of tea gardens in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, where the popular West Lake Longjing Tea is produced. The area accounts for 2 percent of the city's tea gardens.

A manager of Hangzhou Yupai Tea Company said the price of the new spring tea won't be higher than last year, expected to range from 1,500 yuan (US$220) to 3,000 yuan a kilogram.

Biluochun, another famous green tea variety produced in Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, will also go on the market on Wednesday. The price for the early teas is forecast to be 3,600 yuan to 5,000 yuan a kilogram, almost the same as last year, the report said.

Tea experts suggested tea lovers hold out a few more days before trying the new teas because the quality will be better and the price will go down.

"The earliest tea hasn't reached the best quality as only early-maturing species are picked," said Liu Qigui, an expert of the association.

Locals each consume an average of 1 kilogram of tea every year.


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