Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tradition vs. Profit

I came across a news recently that a Wu Niu Zao grower in ZheJiang produced lightly roasted Oolong from Wu Niu Zao tea tree leaves. This definitely comes with tremendous financial benefits. Traditionally, Wu Niu Zao is only harvested in early spring to make Yong Jia Wu Niu Zao green tea. With the new development, Wu Niu Zao can be harvested again in late spring to make Oolong, a tea that is gaining popularity now.

While we support the effort of new tea R&D, I am concerned about the trend of chasing popular teas for profits. Wu Niu Zao is both a tea tree name and a tea name. Although Wu Niu Zao is a wonderful green tea, its name is quite often associated with faked West Lake Long Jing made from Wu Niu Zao leaves. During the Pu-erh heydays, almost every tea producer in Yunnan was making Pu-erh. Green and black tea raw materials were all put into making Pu-erh. People later realized that not all of them were suitable for making Pu-erh, and not all the producers were skillful at making Pu-erh.

I will be thrilled to celebrate and promote the birth of a new tea if the grower gives his new tea a new name, instead of calling his tea Oolong. Otherwise, I’ll remain skeptical when I see a green tea producer making Oolong or an Oolong tea producer making Pu-erh.

What’s your view on this? I would like to hear from you.


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