Aerial photo taken on March 13, 2022 shows a Longjing tea garden in Chun'an county in East China's Zhejiang province.
The Hangzhou municipal government announced on March 16 that the Longjing No 43, a new variety of West Lake Longjing tea, will be harvested starting from March 18, while the harvest date for an earlier variety named "Qunti" is set to take place in late March.
Shao Jinghua, chief agronomist with the Hangzhou Administration of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said that the West Lake Longjing tea will see a rise in overall quality this year owing to ideal climate factors.
According to local media reports, tea quality is also determined by how tea gardens are managed. In recent years, Hangzhou authorities have taken a host of measures in this regard, such as curbing the use of pesticides through the application of green technologies and promoting the use of organic fertilizers that improve the soil.
Hangzhou authorities have also promulgated a dedicated protection and management regulation on West Lake Longjing tea, which came into effect on March 1. The regulation stipulates that it is the municipal government that shoulders the responsibility to announce the actual harvest date for fresh tea leaves each year and to handle the applications for anti-counterfeit labels for tea products.
An official of the Hangzhou Administration of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said that the first batch of this year's anti-counterfeit labels would be distributed on the morning of March 17. This means that all West Lake Longjing tea sold before this date and with such labels are fake.
Longjing tea, which is grown in a number of Zhejiang cities such as Hangzhou, Shaoxing, Jinhua, and Taizhou, plays a critical role in Zhejiang's tea industry. The best-known West Lake Longjing tea - the type planted in Hangzhou's Xihu district - boasted a brand value of 7.4 billion yuan ($1.16 billion) in 2021, topping all tea brands across China, according to an expert assessment by Zhejiang University.
"Zhejiang has set the goal of raising the annual revenue of Longjing tea industry to above 8 billion yuan and turning it into the nation's largest green tea industrial cluster by 2025," said Luo Liewan, chief expert at the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.