Young couple grow wealth with mountain tea business
When she received her bonus of 1,097 yuan (about 162.8 U.S. dollars), Mao Huayan, 30, felt like a child again — getting “lucky” money during the Spring Festival, a time-honored tradition in China.
Her bonus is the annual dividend of the collective cooperative owned by Jiaoyao Village in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, where Mao lives. Last year, the cooperative allocated 40 percent of its profits to the shareholders in the village. “It wasn’t much money, but everyone was happy, and it was the best reward for our hard work all year long,” Mao said.
Mao added that collective economic dividends were just the icing on the cake. More important was the industrial development that helped them to accumulate wealth. She and her husband managed to earn an income of about 150,000 yuan last year, a figure their parents could never had imagined.
In the 1980s, the village began a trial planting of a 6-mu (0.4 hectare) tea garden, which yielded a good harvest. “My family has been growing tea for three generations, so I can say I was raised by tea,” said Kuang Zhengchao, Mao’s husband, who grew up in Jiaoyao Village, a high-altitude mountainous area with poor agricultural production conditions.
He said his family used to have trouble putting food on the table, but now he earns 70,000 yuan a year just from selling tea.
Nowadays, the tea plantation area of Jiaoyao Village has expanded to 3,760 mu. Almost every family in the village lives on tea, and 45 villagers have set up several tea processing plants and cooperatives. The tea industry has boosted villagers’ incomes and turned the once-poor village into a wealthy one.
Seven years ago, Mao married Kuang, who she met while working in a town. The post-90s couple chose to return to Kuang’s village after they got married, taking the baton from their parents — planting and producing tea with care.
In 2019, Kuang and seven other young people in the village set up a tea cooperative. With the support of the economic cooperative in their village, they integrated the resources of the tea industry, and implemented the model of unified planting, fertilization, processing and sales, striving to achieve high quality and a good taste.
An old house in the village was converted into a tea processing and exhibition workshop, while the house facing the lush mountains and the tea garden was turned into a separate tea tasting room. Looking out, one sees patches of tea garden looming through the sea of clouds.
“The tea business has made our life better and better,” said Kuang.
During the slack season, Kuang would come to a room in the tea garden on top of the mountain to make “guqin,” an ancient seven-stringed zither in China. A few years ago, he got acquainted with a guqin maker by selling tea and learned the craft of making guqin. Through trial and error, he now makes more than 70 instruments a year and earns about 50,000 yuan.
“This year we want to broaden the sales channels for our products through short videos and live broadcasts, and get a more substantial income,” said Mao. Even more exciting, Mao’s baby will be born in the Year of the Rabbit. The couple believe the harvest will be bountiful this year.