Our Tea Master Bruce Richardson 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. He returned two weeks before travel from China was banned and continues to stay in touch with Chinese industry officials as well as with importers here in America.
A few tea drinkers have asked: Are there any risks associated with drinking Chinese teas?
Here are the facts:
* All teas on American store shelves and in warehouses were harvested well before the Covid-19 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.
*The virus has not been known to live longer than 9 days on a dry surface.
Mei Yu, Secretary-General of the China Tea Association, said in an interview with the Economic Daily:
“149 top-tier processing facilities in 21 counties in 7 provinces and regions nationwide have begun to collect early spring tea. The impact of the coronavirus mainly impacted the market for finished tea before and after the Spring Festival. Colder than average spring weather affected some local production areas, but in terms of the overall early spring tea market across China, it had little impact.”
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.
But the short answer to the safety of Chinese tea is yes, Chinese tea is safe to drink.