Mr. Duan’s “No Spray” Contract System

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).

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2 thoughts on “Mr. Duan’s “No Spray” Contract System

  1. I appreciate that you are testing for pesticides. It is my understanding that generally speaking, teas that come from higher altitudes are less likely to be grown with pesticides, than those grown at lower altitudes. It is nice to see that there is an emphasis not use chemicals, conveyed to the growers. It is also great to see that there is an atmosphere of trust and integrity, and what seems like a positive and respectful relationship between the grower and the buyer. I enjoyed the photographs. I like knowing that I am supporting the farmer and his family and community in this process. I like that you put a face on my tea, and showed me the folks who make it happen. It seems so exotic, that the tea comes so far away from me, yet is something that is such a huge part of my daily life. Thanks!

  2. Hi!

    At first it was scary to do the tests and we lost some money, but we gradually learned which growers were doing things right (no spray) and that just strengthened our relationship with them. Yes… just regular folks doing what they do in a land far away. It’s a very different lifestyle in rural Yunnan!

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