[ti:Drought Hurts Tea Crop in China]
[00:00.01]Que Liu and his wife Si En spend their mornings picking pu'er leaves in a forest not far from their village in the highlands of southwest China.
[00:15.67]Pu'er is a kind of tea that is famous for its complex taste.
[00:22.12]The taste changes with each successive steeping, tea lovers say.
[00:29.09]But the crop this year has been small at Nannuoshan, one of the six major pu'er mountains in Yunnan Province.
[00:41.51]The hottest weather and lowest rainfall totals in years have reduced production.
[00:49.22]"Drought has cut production by about half this spring," said Zi Sai, the son of Que Liu and Si En.
[01:00.00]Local officials blame climate change for an increase in drought-like conditions in recent years.
[01:10.07]The dry weather has worsened over the past 20 years, with this year's drought breaking some records.
[01:19.52]"The entire precipitation pattern has changed due to global warming," said Xiao Chan, head of weather services at China's National Climate Center in Beijing.
[01:34.22]Pu'er trees grow in the cloud-covered forests of Yunnan.
[01:40.26]The trees require no fertilizer or pesticides, unlike tea grown on large farms elsewhere.
[01:49.76]The adult plant normally reaches a height of four meters.
[01:55.33]Spring produces the highest-quality leaves from the trees.
[02:00.83]The summer harvest, with a higher percentage of water, is considered to be lower in quality.
[02:09.54]Summer leaves are sold for mass consumption, said Zi Sai.
[02:15.65]The drought conditions hurt the economy of the 32 villages of Nannuoshan.
[02:23.54]"My family depends wholly on tea for survival, earning about 200,000 yuan a year," said Zi Sai's uncle, Si Da, who is 44.
[02:38.31]That represents just over $29,000.
[02:43.12]"This year...our income has been cut by tens of thousands of yuan," he said.
[02:50.99]While one ancient tree, said to date from before the time of the Mongol invader Genghis Khan 800 years ago, survived the drought, other younger trees did not.
[03:06.10]If the trees survive, they may need three to five years for a full recovery, Si Da said.
[03:15.34]"They are quite pitiful, these trees," he added. "They should be protected, like children are."
[03:23.54]I'm John Russell.更多聽力請訪問51VOA.COM