Because of the enormous demand for Longjing from the West Lake Longjing Tea Gardens, much more "West Lake Longjing" is sold each year than is actually grown in the West Lake District of Hangzhou. To combat this fraud, the West Lake District Tea Industry Committee started to issue authentication stickers beginning in 2001.
Authentication sticker and distribution
The Committee has a detailed map of all Tea Gardens in the West Lake District of Hangzhou. They use the calculated average of 1 mu of land producing 25kg of Longjing tea in one season (1 km² = 1,500 mu).
Each year farmers are required to report any changes in the size of the land used for growing Longjing. Each garden is allotted a set number of authentication stickers for the total amount of Longjing divided by 250g (the standard package size).
The authorities have established guidelines for the use of authentication stickers to ensure each sticker is connected to the tea sold by the farmers; that they can provide authentic and accurate tracing and origin information.
The rules set by the local authorities for the authentication stickers/tags are as follows:
1) It is not permitted to resell an authentication sticker.
2) It is not permitted that gardens sell Longjing without including a sticker for each 250g package.
How to use the tag
Scan the QR code using a smart phone to be redirected to the official website for West Lake Longjing information and certification. Once on the website, the sticker on the certificate can be scratched off to reveal the authentication code. After typing in the authentication code, the tea information will be revealed on the website. These certificates are very strictly controlled and are the only guarantee for buyers that they have certified West Lake Longjing. The website will also reveal how many times the serial number linked to the tea has been checked online. See the slideshow below for more details: