Five detained for producing fake Pu-erh tea

The gang has allegedly sold about 130 million yuan (US$20 million) of the fake tea over the Internet since 2017.
Ti Gong / Changning police

Shanghai police raid the factory where the fake tea is produced in February.

Ti Gong / Changning police

Police examine a fake tea cake

Ti Gong / Changning police

Fake trade marks

Five suspects have been detained for allegedly producing and selling fake Pu-erh tea, Shanghai police said on Friday.

Since 2017, the gang has sold about 130 million yuan (US$20 million) of the fake tea over the Internet, police said.

Police in Changning District started their investigation in November last year after receiving a report from a resident who claimed that he purchased he thought was probably fake Pu-erh tea from the 1960s from a shopping website.

The tea was identified as fake, and found to be produced Menghai county, Yunnan Province.

Police raided the gang’s factory, two warehouses and a shop in Menghai and Kunming in late February this year and seized over 40 tons of fake tea and packaging materials.

Yang Qingxian, head of Menghai Tea Co which produces real Pu-erh tea, said while a kind of authentic tea from the 1960s is sold at 40,000 yuan for a pack of 250 grams, the fake tea was sold for only 68.9 yuan for a pack of 500 grams – and his company never produces packs of 500 grams on this variety.

“Our company has dealt with about 150 such cases in the past 15 years, and this is the largest,” he said.

Wang Jixiang, vice general manager of China Tea Co’s Yunnan branch, said the fake tea was produced in a factory with low hygiene standards.

Wang also explained that apart from its unique scent, authentic old Pu-erh tea usually has a slight maroon color and its tea cakes are less hard than those made from new tea leaves due to the drying over time. When brewed, the tea has a color which resembles old wine.

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