In central China's Longfeng Town: Matcha helps battle poverty
Updated 12:17, 26-May-2019
By Li Zhao
["china"]
04:25
‍Matcha, or powdered green tea, is gaining favor around the world. 
Over the centuries it has graduated from being a monastic herb used by Buddhist monks to an increasingly common food and beverage choice.
Experts say matcha has the ability to fight against chronic conditions including heart diseases, diabetes and even cancer. 
A matcha grinder. /CGTN Photo

A matcha grinder. /CGTN Photo

While most people are impressed by its great health benefits, only a few know that the powder can also greatly improve the utilization of tea leaves.
That's how Chai Rongjian, who's been running tea businesses for 40 years, helps locals in Longfeng Town, central China's Hubei Province, battle against poverty.

Cooperation between eastern and western regions 

In 2017, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) called for widespread efforts in deepening cooperation between the eastern and western regions of China.
To make the poverty alleviation process even more "targeted," the Party has been pairing up left-behind western villages with relatively developed eastern cities, hoping to have everyone on board in the nation-wide fight against poverty.
A tea farm in Longfeng Town, Enshi City, central China's Hubei Province. /CGTN Photo

A tea farm in Longfeng Town, Enshi City, central China's Hubei Province. /CGTN Photo

Chai is one of the billions that hope to do something for the poor, and that's why he paid a visit to the village town for the first time in 2017.
The tea expert soon figured out the problem.
"After we arrived here, we found that most farmers are focused on tea planting," Chai said. "But they only picked tea leaves in spring, picking those very tiny sprouts. But after spring, they ditched the leaves during the summer and fall seasons." 
02:28
The Hangzhou native decided to make good use of the summer and fall seasons, making up his mind to set up a matcha tea company.
"Matcha is different from the tiny sprouts they used to pick, the overall yield can be greatly improved," he said.

Rising above all odds

When Chai first introduced the idea of producing matcha, many locals were worried about the legitimacy.
"Of course they've pondered," Chai said. "They would worry about things like what if matcha cannot help us earn more money, or what if your company breaks down all of a sudden."
To see is to believe. Chai knew the drill and he decided to rent some land as pilot tea farms first, to prove how it can benefit their lives.
Tea farmers in Longfeng Town use machines to cut tea leaves. /CGTN Photo

Tea farmers in Longfeng Town use machines to cut tea leaves. /CGTN Photo

Tea leaves picking machine is a magical tool that Chai introduced to Longfeng County. "When I first used it in front of the locals, they watched me as if they were watching a TV show."
Soon tea farmers, like Liu Xinmei, realized the importance of the less labor-intensive tool and started to embrace Chai's matcha idea.
"I no longer need to pick tea leaves by hand, but with their machines," the 62-year-old said. "Life has been so much easier."
She enjoys working here. /CGTN Photo

She enjoys working here. /CGTN Photo

Liu has rented her land to Chai's company Enshi Longma New Fruit Industry Co. Ltd. since early 2018. This May marks her third contract with the company.
"They examined my land," Liu said. "They have been offering fertilizers while teaching me how to do my work. I don't need to worry about anything but to follow their directions."
(Video filmed by Fu Gaoliang, edited by Li Zhao)