I was in Shanghai between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, just as the first mention of a mysterious virus was beginning to appear in the news. I returned two weeks before travel from China was banned and I continue to stay in touch with Chinese industry officials as well as with importers here in America.

Pan firing Longjing green tea.

We have received a few calls asking about any risks associated with drinking Chinese teas.

Here are the facts:

*We stocked up on Chinese teas last year because of the threat of tariffs. All teas in our warehouse and in our delivery system were harvested well before the virus outbreak.

*All teas are dried at the source at temperatures above 200° F. There are no reports of Corona Virus being able to survive at those temperatures or in organic products that are dried to less than 4-5%.

*The incubation period for Corona Virus is 14 days in a live host. Transit time for most teas from Chinese gardens to American ports of entry is 60 days.

Longjing tea garden

China’s tea industry has suffered, mainly due to the disruption in shipping. Now the spring tea harvest is about to get underway and there may be labor shortages. 45% of the green tea consumed in the US is from China so this issue is important to the economic health of Chinese tea growers.

Picking began March 15 in Hangzhou’s West Lake region, known for Longjing (above).  The quality of tea was better than that of the previous year. The average purchase price for a top grade was about $643 per kg.

West Lake plantation region procured 1 million masks for spring tea picking. In order to carry out the tea picking smoothly, each tea village has sent cars to pick up tea workers.

Anji White Tea harvest began March 17, and by March 20, the harvest of Zhejiang Province will be in full swing.

But the short answer to the safety of Chinese tea is yes, Chinese tea is safe to drink.

You might be interested in The Tea Maestro's review of Afternoon Tea at the Waldorf Astoria in Shanghai.

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