Development status of QINGSHAN tea garden & Chenzhou-JIETAN COMPANY

43 hectares
Yield/production quantity
340 tons of fresh tea leaves per year, which are processed into 85 tons of organic tea
Full development partnership sustainability since 2008
with Fairbiotea
Management and legal ownership
Hunan Chenzhou Jietan Tea Co., Ltd.
Management of tea cultivation and tea processing
Hunan Chenzhou Jietan Tea Co., Ltd.
Management of tea final processing
Guzhang Organic Tea Industry Co., Ltd.
EU organic and USDA/NOP organic since 2005
Tracert inspections of export, development and organic security since 2008
by CERES and Fairbiotea
UTZ sustainability certified from 2016 to 2021
by China Standard Conformity Assessment Co., Ltd.
Rainforest Alliance sustainability certified since 2021
by Ecocert Environment SAS
Quality management certified according to ISO 22000 since 2008
by China Quality Certification Center
Finished development project (2018)
of Fairbiotea

The partnership between Fairbiotea and the Qingshan tea garden will continue.

General development

After the inspection in May 2017, Fairbiotea came to the conclusion that the development goals for the Qingshan tea plantation had been achieved, although there is still a need for advice on the expansion of compost production, which, however, can only be ensured by a professional consulting company. Until the end of 2018, Fairbiotea still financed the wage costs for the compost managers and the cattle breeding as agreed, the financing of further development measures was stopped. The tea garden management now works independently without constant help from Fairbiotea and pursues the goal of more sustainability on its own.

In our newsletters, we have been reporting continuously since 2013 on the ongoing positive development. Since then, this has also been confirmed by the organic third country control body CERES.

Environmental contaminations

The analytical methods in Europe are steadily improving and more and more hazardous substances from natural sources or from the general environmental pollution are being detected. That’s why we will have to continue to work on minimisation measures in the future. It is an illusion to think that organic farming and the nature could be free from all hazardous substances. However, organic products contain only a fraction of the chemical residues that are present in non-organic products. Read more about this in our article on the EU control system and its problems.

Modernisation and minimisation of hazardous substances

From 2020 on the final processing is done in the factory of Guzhang Organic Tea Industry Co. Ltd., which is continuously organic certified since 2005. The new factory of Hunan Chenzhou Jietan Co. has been abandoned.

In all areas of the tea production, any possible action was taken in order to prevent the contamination of the tea as far as possible. Considerable efforts have been undertaken to minimise contamination by environmental chemicals. For this purpose, rebuilding measures in the tea factories and modifications in the production process were necessary. The processing machines have been converted from wood and coal combustion to electric energy, within the limits of the structural possibilities of the producers. The connection between environmental pollution and tea contamination has already been described in our newsletter 2016.

No prohibited plant protection products can be detected in the tea of Qingshan tea garden.

Sustainable ecological agriculture, nutrient cycle

In 2017, Fairbiotea has purchased the last missing machines that are necessary for a modern large-scale compost production.

The problems in compost production and application that we described in our newsletter will also occur in the future. However, a consultancy agreement between ECOCERT, Fairbiotea and Qingshan has been in place since December 2022. The consultancy will focus on nutrient cycles and the production of compost on the farm. Fairbiotea finances 80% of the substantial consultancy costs, the producer contributes 20%.

Large-scale compost production will continue under the guidance of ECOCERT.

Rendered bonus payments for the sustainable development

The Fairbiotea bonus system has been reduced after ten years of support. During this time, the Qingshan tea garden received approximately 500,000 Euro of bonus payments and consulting services from Fairbiotea, which have been invested in the sustainable development of the tea garden.

In the context of the purchase guarantee given by Fairbiotea, approximately 1500 tons of organic tea have been exported from the Qingshan tea garden to Germany during this period.

Until 2017, Fairbiotea has initiated and co-financed the following development actions for the Qingshan tea garden:

  • Tractor as a drive unit for different devices used in compost production and for towing a trailer
  • a front loader
  • mowers for large areas
  • a shredder
  • a compost cover of 5x50 metres
  • measuring instruments for checking the oxygen concentration and moisture content in the compost
  • compost turner (self-propelled)
  • sifting machine for large quantities of compost
  • a new truck
  • new electrically driven and electrically heated machines for the tea processing in the preprocessing factory
  • a paved way to the place for large-scale compost production
  • annual salaries for two compost managers
  • annual salary for the manager of the cattle breeding
  • purchase of animals for cattle breeding
  • stable buildings
  • remuneration of the Fairbiotea consultant and project manager of the compost reasearch project
  • 100 shade trees
  • Demeter training for farm managers
  • UTZ training for the UTZ sustainability certification
  • complete equipment for a new multimedia room for the Xiaojiaqiao elementary school, which is attended by the children of the Qingshan tea garden
  • road construction from the tea garden to the Xiaojiaqiao elementary school
  • road construction within the tea garden

Tea prices, export and sustainable social development

Since Fairbiotea exists, we have repeatedly reported on the contradiction of the market forces in Europe.

The growing demand of European consumers and manufacturers for ever cheaper but still sustainably produced goods is a contradiction. If something is very cheap, then it cannot be produced sustainably and it is inevitably of poor quality. Sustainably manufactured products are inevitably more expensive than those that are not produced sustainably. Expensive products usually have a better quality. The big demand for cheap products in Europe has a negative impact on the sustainable development in developing countries.

Although the revenues of producers and their employees have increased over the years, the production costs and the cost of living have risen much faster. This makes it increasingly difficult for producers to finance the sustainable production desired by the European consumers. The pressure for the producers is also increasing, because, for example, in China there are statutory regulations that are valid only for plantation farms and these have to finance their implementation.

At the same time, there is the multitude of peasants to whom no labour law is applicable, who keep being exploited by Chinese profiteers and who cannot comply with sustainability requirements. Partially, one could call this slavery. The farmers are poor, dependent and forced to satisfy the European request for cheap tea. But the European price expectations can only be met through exploitation.

The companies that work in a sustainable way are struggling to produce goods at the requested prices. For the Europeans there is a gap between desire and reality. They want healthy, sustainably produced and high-quality organic products, manufactured in consideration of environmental protection, nature and wildlife preservation as well as with social responsibility and adequately paid producers. In addition, there is the compliance with quality management systems, modernisation measures and the implementation of European food regulations. All this should also be accompanied by a multitude of certification procedures and quality seals, which are expensive and whose effectiveness should be questioned. All this must be paid by the producers in the developing countries. The European enterprises very rarely participate in these costs. In reality, neither the European manufacturers nor the European consumers want to pay the product prices that would be necessary to make these wishes come true.

For this ambivalence, honesty is often abandoned, and the certifications only serve the marketing that makes the consumers believe that the products labelled with sustainability seals are actually sustainably produced and fulfil the customer’s sustainability aspirations.

Many consumers close their eyes and act against a better knowledge and contrary to their own desires. In the age of communication, it is possible to find reliable information at any time. In the end, traders and consumers do not want to know exactly and are more interested in a low price than in high quality and sustainable responsibility. This collective selfish European behaviour has enormous negative consequences for the producers and the rural population in the producing countries, for ecology, economy, welfare, up to the rural depopulation. We experience the effects of this behaviour with the flow of refugees coming to Europe in recent years.

The implications in the long run will slow down the sustainable development. And this is because sustainable development costs the producers a lot of money, which should be paid by the Europeans who buy the products. Sustainability has to be financed with the revenue surpluses from the export. If no surplus can be realised, then no sustainable production is possible.

Updated 2 March 2023