Tea consumption in China is much more than just enjoying a comforting beverage. We have a phrase for it: chá yì, which means “the art of drinking tea.” It reflects how much it means to us: it is a tradition, a ceremony, and a ritual. My purpose is to replicate that cherish for tea in my business.

My name is Jialing Ding, and I am the general manager of Kangyuan Chinese Herbal Medicine Planting Cooperative, located in southeast China, in Nanping, Fujian.

I am a third-generation tea farmer; my family has been planting tea leaves for more than a century. When you inherit your ancestors’ profession as I did, you want to make sure you not only grow the business but you continue to raise its quality standards while honoring its legacy.

The Art of Growing and Cultivating Tea

I mostly grow black tea and green tea leaves, and though there are many tea farms in China, I am confident to say that my tea leaves are special.

Three things set them apart:

My plantation is located in a mountain range, completely surrounded by forests, and that makes the soil extremely fertile. Therefore, we are able to produce leaves that taste better and are high in polyphenols, a micronutrient treasured for its antioxidant properties.

There is another component crucial to the quality of the tea we harvest here: the human care we put into every leaf. Many employ machine picking, but here all of our leaves are handpicked. This tea plantation provides work to the farmers and laborers in the surrounding area.

When harvest season rolls around in May or June, we will employ around 1,200 people; when it’s off-season, they come to help with other tasks. We are proud to provide employment opportunities for the community.

Jialing Ding Tea Farmer

How We Carefully Select Our Tea Leaves

The picking technique employed by our workers – which its main characteristic is that it does not hurt the leaves – is passed on orally from one generation to the next. They learn it through word of mouth passed down from their ancestors. We put our heart and soul into the tea: every batch of tea leaves we harvest comes from hard work and passion, and the excellent quality is our reward.

But love doesn’t mean negligence. Our entire manufacturing process follows a strict procedure, and that is also one of the contributing factors to our output. First, the leaves go through withering, then rolling, then fermentation, then drying, then sorting, and then you get the end product. Our tea leaves are sold all over the country, and our partnership with Herbalife Nutrition has allowed our tea to go global.

Partnering with Herbalife Nutrition

Herbalife Nutrition has very high standards: they work only with high-quality and high-end products, which is why I am very honored to have been chosen by them as a supplier of tea leaves. Thanks to this partnership, I am producing tea that is enjoyed by millions around the world.

For me, it’s very moving to think how many people are currently enjoying a conversation or a soothing moment around a cup of tea that started as a seed in my plantation.