On the 18th of September, Guangzhou’s Fangcun tea market, was completely ruined by typhoon Mangkhut. This is really big deal for tea shop owners who’ve a huge part of their wealth in pu erh tea.
On September 16th, between 19:00 and 20:00, the water level in the Guangyuan Tea Distribution Center and the Guqiao Tea Street continued to rise, with the highest water level between 0.8 and 1 meter.
This event follows the pu erh tea crash from just over a decade ago.
A reporter of Mei Jing Wang news site reports:
“If you close your eyes, you will be able to smell the rich tea in the Fangcun tea market in Guangzhou; if you open your eyes, you will see many tea house owners dumping the tea soaked in water.”
The areas that suffered the most where the ‘ancient bridge tea street’ and the ‘guangwu tea distribution centre’. According to mr. Dong from Guangzhou Guqiao Maoyuan Property Management Co., Ltd. such an event is a once in a hundred year disaster.
A reporter from Jiang Wen Hua (from Jin Yang Wang Xun) states:
“The front door is full of water-immersed tea and cartons, about half a person high. The stagnant water is browned by the tea leaves, and the air smells of tea and carton.”
Pictures of Fangcun Tea Market Before and After Mangkhut Typoon
See below a collection of pictures from different Chinese social media.
Two days after the typhoon, there were still many tea shops dumping the flooded tea leaves.
“We lost more than 1 million yuan.” In an alley in the Fangcun tea market, a tea house owner said that the tea can only be thrown away after being soaked in water. Many tea shop owners told reporters that the economic losses will be several million yuan.
There’s currently no official estimate of the total damage, but Dong Xinwei, manager of Guangzhou Guqiao Maoyuan Property Management Co., Ltd., said the economic losses suffered by the tea market are at least 150 million USD, but far less than the billions mentioned in other sources online.
The reason for such a large figure is because this tea market is one of China’s oldest. Many sellers hold teas from even the 60s and 70s which are worth several thousand dollars per cake.
Unlike in the West, Chinese store owners generally do not buy insurance against such risk.
We wish all the tea shop owners all the luck they need to get through these difficult times.
Who’s to Blame?
The cause of flooding has not been concluded. While it’s obvious that the flooding is the result of overflowed rivers, the question remains why tea shop owners haven’t been warned.
The overflown river adjacent to the ancient bridge tea street was named ‘Kwai Phong Chung’, the starting point of the Huadi River and the terminal railway bridge, with a total length of 870 meters.
However, local officials, the tea market management office and local river management has yet to clarify the reason.
Dong Xinwei, a tea shop owner, said “We’re all that waiting for the relevant departments to give conclusions. What we can do now is to clean up the tea waste in the streets, free up space, and resume business as soon as possible, because there’s nothing that can help us, but just ourselves.