In our last post “Mengku Huang Shan Wild Arbor Trees!” we talked about how Mr. Duan keeps the teas that he sources free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. He works with several different growers in Mengku area who in exchange for a payment of ¥600 CNY (about $93 USD) four times yearly sign a contract and use their inked fingerprint as a seal to guarantee their complicity with the terms of the contract. It’s not a huge sum of money, but it’s enough to make up for any decrease in the yield they experience and also creates a sense of mutual cooperation between grower and buyer. It also guarantees that Mr. Duan will buy their mao cha or fresh leaves during harvest times. Of course there is no obligation on the part of the grower to sell their tea to Mr. Duan, and as such he must still offer a good market price to get their leaves.
Yunnan countryside people are (for the most part) very honest people and see accepting money as a payment. As such, it creates a feeling of obligation to uphold the no pesticides terms of the contract, as accepting money from others (outside their family structure) is not taken lightly. It also fosters a sense of belonging to an elite group of growers which works well in everyones favor. Mr. Duan also uses his quarterly contract signing time to meet with growers and educate them about his expectations.
So far, the proof is in the pudding… We are in our 4th year of testing Mr. Duan’s teas and all have come back with perfect scores (LESS THAN REPORT LIMIT – see page 2 of the lab report).