Tea importer strikes deal to bring rare Chinese tea to US

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

The tea leaves are sourced from China's Shaanxi province on the Daba Mountain where they grow at high altitudes. ©GettyImages/start0
The tea leaves are sourced from China's Shaanxi province on the Daba Mountain where they grow at high altitudes. ©GettyImages/start0

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Cha Gardens has introduced a low-yield high-end tea, grown at an altitude of 2,100 to 2,300 meters in China’s Daba Mountain region, to the US market: available in select fine dining restaurants and online.

Cha Gardens founder Joe Muscaglione, who is also a trained wine sommelier, believes that there is an obvious but underutilized marketing parallel between loose-leaf tea and wine.

Muscaglione likens the prominence of Shaanxi, China, where Cha Gardens sources its tea varieties to famous French wine regions of Bordeaux or Burgundy.

“The flavors and health benefits of teas, like wines, are based upon the climate and soils within which they are grown,”​ Muscaglione said.

Historically, the Daba Mountain region has not been a hot bed of tea sourcing for international importers because of its rough terrain and high elevation, according to Muscaglione.

“The Daba Mountain area is extremely rugged and has been that way for centuries where plants are left to grow in their natural environment,” he said.

“As in wine, the more stress the grapes, or in this case the tea plant goes through, the more selective and controlled the yield will be. Our tea is hand-picked from an eco-region protected by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) providing aspiring gourmands and tea connoisseurs a new beverage experience.” 


Cha Gardens' four varieties of tea include Qinba Wu Hao, Qinba Chao Qing, Qinba Mao Jian, and Qinba Jin Jun Mei. 

In order for tea from Daba Mountain to resonate with consumers, Muscaglione said tea education and proper serving is crucial and believes fine dining restaurants will help solidify the tea’s premium appeal.

“The tea world here in the US is still very new,”​ he said. “I think as people start to learn more about the health benefits [and where the tea comes from] of it that is going to be one of the major attractions.”

Tea such as the varieties sourced by Cha Gardens is allegedly high in the antioxidant Selenium.

The four types of tea available to restaurants and on the companies website range from approximately $0.37 to $3.50 per cup, according to Muscaglione.

“Our highest tea takes 38,000 buds to make 400 grams, but at $3.50 per cup, it’s still an affordable luxury,”​ he added. 

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Qinba Wu Hao

Posted by joe muscaglione,

hi Barbara, i am Joe Muscaglione. it was a misprint. i believe they have corrected. they are small buds indeed, 38,000 to make approx 400 grams, but according to our tea master, Cai Ru Gui, that number is probably on the conservative side. i hope to share some tea with you sometime. cheers

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are you sure about the numbers ??

Posted by Barbara Dufrene,

Pardon me , but the statement that it takes 38.000 buds to make 100gr of tea seems strange,
maybe just one zero missing??
as 38.000 buds is already a considerable premium quality for making 1 kg of tea,
that means 38 buds to a gram, very tiny buds indeed.

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