CHINA MOVES FROM TEA TO 'BLACK GOLD'
Oranjestad, October 20 2011 - In southwestern China, farmers have grown a famous green tea for centuries. Now, farmers are embracing the coffee bean. NBC's Adrienne Mong reports.
PU'ER, YUNNAN PROVINCE – The name of this area is synonymous with the delicate leaf prized by tea aficionados in China and beyond.
For at least 2,000 years, families have cultivated Pu'er tea in the rolling hills of Yunnan, bordering Myanmar. The tea is known for its intense earthy flavor, which devotees say improves with age. However, it’s also valued for reputed health benefits: the ability to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, reduce fat, and cleanse the liver of toxins.
All this led to crazy auction prices few years ago. Reports in 2007 suggested some aged vintages of Pu’er were going for as much as $10,000 for 10 grams (0.35 ounces).
One year later, that bubble burst. The market for this special fermented tea collapsed after a buying frenzy turned into a selling spree by unscrupulous wholesalers who had driven up prices artificially.
Many farmers who were caught up in the frenzy were left with nearly worthless supplies of tea, but many others had carefully spread their risk..... To coffee.