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First crop of Longjing tea coming next week

THIS year's first crop of Longjing tea, one of the best known green teas, will be available on the market after March 20 if weather permits.

Experts with the Shanghai Tea Association said tea plants in the hilly area near the West Lake are still "asleep" but buds about the size of a grain can be seen in tea plants on the sunny slopes of terraced tea plantations. If weather is good, tea picking will start on March 20.

The association said the fresh new tea now sold in the market is Wuniuzao, a variety also produced in Zhejiang Province. Some dealers claim it was Longjing tea but it is not.

A tea seller surnamed Liu at the Zhongshan Road N. Tea Market said all the Longjing tea sold in the market is from last year's stock. Some venders stored Longjing in refrigerators and tea leaves look the same as new tea but don't taste the same.

Some dealers even sell Zhuyeqing, a green tea from Yibin, Sichuan Province as Longjing. Though the two teas look similar but Longjing has a richer flavor.

Longjing is much more expensive than Zhuyeqing, costing at least 4,000 yuan (US$608) per kilogram while Zhuyeqing is priced at about 800 yuan per kilogram.


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