fresh tea leaves

Looking for Fresh Tea Leaves

I received an email this morning from a potential supplier in China. Apparently he couldn’t sell me fresh, unprocessed tea leaves because…you know what I’ll just copy/paste here:

Sorry, we cannot export fresh tea leaves to Your country. It’s forbidden.

What?! I was pretty sure it was possible, and this flipped my day over. So I rebooted my research.

After reading up online, I called US Customs at the Port of San Francisco and spoke with a specialist who didn’t believe it was forbidden, but had me talk with the FDA.

The FDA agent I spoke with essentially said, “Not forbidden, you’re cool” and was kind enough to send along some documents on Tea Importation & Bulk Importation rules.

Calling back US Customs and speaking with a second specialist, not only was the specialist surprised that I needed to check that this was permitted, but that I even needed to double-check with the FDA. Tea, is tea.

So the rebooted research says: Not forbidden, you’re cool to import fresh, unprocessed tea leaves, just be sure to follow outlined rules.

This makes me wonder if it’s an export restriction for China, or that trading company simply doesn’t have proper licensing? I emailed them back, but have yet to get a response.

At least I know the US is cool.

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