All kinds of plans to harm Vietnamese tea

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Lam Phong – Thanh Nien Newspaper

     Tea trees grow naturally throughout the East – Northwest of Vietnam. Border areas also exist. Why do “tea enemies” want to infringe on us to defeat Vietnamese tea trees?

More than ten years ago, when the ancient Shan Tuyet tea became famous, there was a trend of digging up ancient tea roots and bringing them back to the garden to grow as ornamental. This hobby only lasted about five years and then turned off because the players discovered that whenever the tea tree leaves its original living place, no matter how well cared for, after 2-3 years, it will die on its own. The ancient tea thought it was lucky to escape the great tribulation, but…

Những gốc trà với đường kính hơn 20 cm, áng chừng trên trăm năm tuổi, bị đốn hạ ở vùng Thượng Sơn, Hà Giang

Tea trees with a diameter of more than 20 cm, estimated to be over a hundred years old, were cut down in Thuong Son, Ha Giang.

Media blow

Tea producers in Ha Giang still remember tricks to squeeze raw material prices, collect low prices when they get good ingredients, mix dirty tea and then collect it and bring it to the border, entice local media, and organize sales campaigns. Mass destruction to blame Vietnamese farmers. For many years, the export price of tea of the Northeast and Northwest indigenous people has wholly depended on traders from outside.

In 2015, Thai Nguyen, Vietnam first held the Tea Master Cup tea-making contest with the consent of the international organization Tea Master Cup. Before the competition, many “strange” traders brought farmers into dirty tea production areas, mixed mud and stone powder into dried tea products and then brought them to consumption for unknown purposes. Even the producer claims that this tea is not drinkable, but because they order in large quantities and take it away, not domestic consumption, they still do it. After that, the case was known to the domestic press, warnings and actual reports about dirty tea were broadcast, the Vietnamese tea market struggled, and traders disappeared.

Sequencing the incident, the tea-making world realized that the dirty tea turned out to be the scheme of the “tea enemy”, only spending money to buy a few kilos of low-priced, low-priced tea, but it created an effect. The media spread dirty tea to discredit Vietnamese tea in front of guests and international councils (Taiwan, Korea, Russia, Australia, etc.) of the Tea Master Cup contest that year.

Một cây trà măng bị đưa ra khỏi rừng, chuẩn bị vận chuyển đến người mua ở vùng biên giới Quản Bạ

A bamboo shoot is taken out of the forest, ready to be transported to a buyer in the Quan Ba border area.

Is Vietnamese tea contaminated?

In the years 2020 – 2021, another wave of rumours confused many people that Ha Giang ancient tea is heavily contaminated with lead, which is not suitable for health.

Ha Giang owns many ore mines, from iron, manganese, zinc, tin, kaolin and lead. The ancient tea tree has an altitude of over 1,500 m, high winds, thick humidity, and vitality when growing in mineral-rich soil. After the difference between day and night is high, the tea will give good quality. But learn about the ore mines of Ha Giang, especially lead ore, often found in low-lying areas such as Ao Xanh (Yen Binh commune, Quang Binh province) and Ta Pan lead mine (Minh Son commune, Bac Me district). , the mines of Sau The Lu (Xin Cai commune, Meo Vac district), Sang Than (Bac Me district), and Ban Ly (Yen Minh district) are not the areas of ancient tea hills.

According to the National Technical Regulation, the limit of heavy metal contamination in food of the Ministry of Health, tea and tea products with lead content must be less than 2.0 mg/kg. Meanwhile, according to test results conducted by the National Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene, the lead content in Ha Giang tea is only 0.18 mg/kg or less. According to technical regulations, the range of other toxic metals, such as arsenic and mercury, is 1.0 mg/kg. The test results are only 0.024 (arsenic) and 0.004 (mercury).

Information about lead-contaminated tea was released before the spring crop of 2022. That was also when tea producers had to embrace a series of products because it was difficult to export in the past two years due to Covid-19 infection, a trick to drown Vietnamese tea continued to depreciate, causing discredit, creating favourable conditions for outside traders to buy high-quality tea at a low price.

Recall during an international tea fair in Shenzhen before the Covid-19 pandemic, a heated argument between Quoc An, a tea producer from Ha Giang, and visitors to Vietnamese tea stalls. Guests mentioned that Vietnamese tea did not have clean tea because, during the war, the US sprayed Agent Orange into the forest, causing the tea to be poisoned (!). Quoc An struggled to pull up a map of Vietnam, zoning the ancient tea area in the East-Northwest region and then in the Central Highlands and Central Vietnam, explaining: “Can water ever flow backwards from low to high? Ancient Vietnamese tea in the East-Northwest and war poison affects many central regions. How can the water flow more than a thousand kilometres up to the high mountains to poison the tea?” The guest then understood the story and nodded in agreement. It can be seen that the way “tea enemies” are rumoured to cause many disadvantages for Vietnamese tea.

Người H’mông nghỉ chân dưới gốc trà cổ thụ ở Ngài Là Thầu, giáp biên Trung Quốc

The Hmong people rest under the ancient tea tree at Nga La Thau, bordering China.

Defeat the tea tree

The day before the trend of cutting down old tea trees was rekindled in the border region of Ha Giang, a veteran tea maker, passionate about the ancient tea tree at that time, Mr Ngo Viet Thanh, lamented: “They came here “as an example.” “People cut tea, cut planks to sell, only buy boards with a width of more than 50 cm, but the tea board can’t do anything because it’s soft and not beautiful, easy to termites. The way to do that is to keep all the big tea trees with them, the rest they have, then make a brand, saying they own the biggest tea trees in the world.”

In the old tree areas in the Lai Chau border area, the border guard said that from 2018 to 2019, the ancient tea tree in the forest was dug up and poured with salt, causing the tree to die. The aim was only to target the tree’s large-diameter tea.

Quality Vietnamese tea but no strong brand

According to summary data from the Vietnam Tea Association, in 2021, Vietnamese tea officially exported to the Chinese market is 8,700 tons, the fourth largest market for Vietnam’s tea imports (leading is Pakistan with 38,300 tons). , Taiwan 17,200 tons, Russia 11,200 tons). Particularly for ancient tea, the Chinese market shows in import volume, most of which is by quota. The non-transparent trade story is an excuse for “tea enemies” to take advantage of the loophole to lower the reputation of Vietnamese tea.

Dr Nguyen Huu La, deputy director of the Northern Mountainous Agro-Forestry Science and Technology Institute, said: “Currently, with tea varieties, we are no less than tea growing countries in the world because we have enough genetic resources for three black tea, green tea and oolong tea products. However, we do market but do not have a strong brand yet. Many foreign customers do not know about Vietnamese tea even though tea exports are in the top 5 in the world.

Colonel Phan Hong Minh, Political Commissar of the Border Guard and representative of the Commander of Lai Chau border posts, said: “Thankfully, the incident was discovered early and border guards promptly warned the villagers. , helping people understand, protect and take care of the great tea trees of the forest”.

A new tea variety has been discovered recently called bamboo shoot tea (because tea buds are exactly like bamboo shoots). According to the book Tra Kinh by the tea god Luc Vu written in the Tang Dynasty, bamboo tea is a sweet tea (Duan Thu Thuong = Bamboo shoots are top grade). Vietnamese tea makers call them fairy tea and dragon claw tea by other names. At the end of 2021, Ha Giang province also had the phenomenon of hiring people to go deep into the forest, hunt for bamboo shoots, dig up and bring them out of the woods to sell on the orders of traders, with a trunk diameter of more than 20 cm for only 800,000. Copper/tree.

The primary forest tea trees, in addition to being destroyed by “tea enemies”, face another situation when harvesting. Because no one owns the forest trees, tea does not belong to the group of timber trees and non-timber forest products. , people are free to exploit. The tree grows in the forest, so the branches are very high, and cutting components to pick buds quickly takes place often. Just like that exploitation, only a few years from now, when the tea tree loses all its branches and leaves, it will gradually die but cannot survive.

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