SHANGHAI, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- "It would really be a pity if these hundreds- year old tea trees had been cut down," recalled Yuan Tian, a girl wearing a traditional Lao dress, as she was making tea in the food and agricultural products section of the fifth China International Import Expo (CIIE) on Sunday.
Eight years ago, several Chinese businessmen traveling the Bolaven Plateau of Laos found to to their shock that age-old tea trees were cut down by local villagers to make place for coffee planting. Without any hesitation, they offered to purchase these treasures of hundreds or even a thousand years of age.
The 36 Manor company then established a factory there, taking tea leaves collected from these ancient tea trees to the global market. Its business there expanded to the growing of tea trees.
"The natural conditions in Laos are very suitable for cultivating tea trees. The tea soup produced by our tea trees is mellow and fragrant. A pot of our tea from ancient trees can survive 15 brews and still be strong," said Yuan, head of the exhibit booth and general manager of Laos 36 Manor.
Organically grown Lao tea has thus quickly become popular with Chinese consumers.
"At last year's CIIE, many Chinese buyers came to our booth and the sales were good, and this year we have customers who are committed to our brand," she said.
With the launch of the China-Laos Railway, the transport cost has dropped significantly for the tea company, which has sold three to five tons of tea to China per year since 2019, she said.
As she spoke, a trading group from Yunnan Honghe County walked into the Lao ancient tree tea booth.
Chen Yonghong, who heads the group, told Xinhua, "We came here specially to find the Lao booth to discuss how to make better use of China-Laos Railway to promote cross-border trade and expand economic development cooperation."
Speaking of China-Laos cooperation, Yuan said that thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, Laos has received a lot of investment from China, which has created a large number of local jobs. Coupled with the construction and improvement of infrastructure, Laos' economic potential is gradually unfolding.
Lao 36 Manor company also bears in mind the motto of "teaching one to fish is better than giving him fish." Yuan said, "We not only hired local staff, but also taught the villagers how to grow tea, as a way to get out of poverty."
"In the early stage of tea plantation, we invited tea tree experts from Jiangxi, China, to guide local staff and tea farmers in the conservation of tea plantations," she said.
Now, 36 Manor has been granted the official certificate of origin in Laos. A special product of the company, made from the buds of trees more than one thousand years old, has been selected as one of the national gifts for Laos' diplomatic activities, becoming a "business card" representing the high-quality agricultural products of Laos.