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China’s Largest Tea Exporter Announces U.S. Expansion Zhejiang Tea Group Establishes Firsd Tea North America, U.S. Operation

Posted On: October 16, 2015

New Castle, DE: Zhejiang Tea Group Co., Ltd., China’s largest tea exporter and world leader in green tea exports, is announcing a major expansion in the North American tea market by establishing Firsd Tea North America.The company plans to position itself as a domestic leader in Chinese tea sales.

Founded in 1950, Zhejiang exports more than 40,000 tons of tea annually, boasting a broad varietal including: green, black, oolong, pu-erh as well as specialty gourmet tea. The company has developed over 10,000 high altitude tea farms and operates 10 tea processing factories including the world’s largest extraction facility.

With exports in over 63 countries, Zhejiang’s principal markets include the U.S., Japan, Africa, Asia, Russia and the EU. In addition to its role as a tea producer and exporter, the company has garnered success building its own native brands, Camel and Shifeng. Both brands have achieved market reach in 30 countries and have gleaned international acclaim. Camel is the exclusive tea brand recognized as a Key Famous Export Brand by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

The company plans to parlay the success of Camel and Shifeng into seeding new brands in the U.S. market. The $10 billion dollar U.S. tea market has grown significantly in recent years given tea’s noted health benefits and consumer demand for safe, affordable ways to improve personal wellness. Interest in safely sourced, organic and fair trade offerings has burgeoned with organic tea constituting over 10% of U.S. tea sales. Zhejiang Tea Group was the first and is now the largest organic tea producer in China. “We are seeing a surge in the US market for better quality tea as well as quality assurances from a reliable source,” says Chen Shengyuan, Executive Director of the company’s U.S. operation, Firsd Tea.

Zhejiang Tea Group has a 20 year performance history in the U.S., serving as a wholesale supplier. To build its own brand presence and better serve existing supplier relationships, Zhejiang has established Firsd Tea, the company’s U.S. operation based in New Castle, Delaware. Under the auspices of Firsd Tea, the company has launched First Tea Leafs a foodservice line of premium, organic and Kosher certified teas. The line was nominated as a Best New Product in the 2015 World Tea Expo where Zhejiang Tea Group participated as a gold sponsor.

The establishment of Firsd Tea will allow Zhejiang to not only establish a U.S. brand presence but work more closely with existing domestic partners. Zhejiang Tea Group’s value to partners is its ability to aggregate sourcing, production and processing as well as supply. “As the industry grows, it is increasingly difficult to aggregate tea needs. Thus, it is important to secure and develop tea products at the source. This requires better communication, better sourcing and better relationships. Our U.S. location will provide both existing and incoming partners with improved access and service. Our size provides absolute reliability of supply and the most modern quality control available anywhere,” adds Ms. Chen.

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Kurt Kumagai