From wado to Ese Tea (II): more tea leaves, more money in the bank

Editor's note: The Sichuan-Tibet Plateau, a beautiful region that reaches toward the heavens, is a place showered with blue skies, covered in white clouds, and dotted with snow-covered mountains, but recently, something truly remarkable has been materializing among the households that call this place home. A groundbreaking historic change has been reshaping the land and its people. From today on, we will publish a series of stories to tell you those changes. 

Luhuo County is 3,250 meters (10,663 feet) above sea level. With its charming landscape and rich natural attractions such as Kasha Lake, Zongtai Grassland, Yiri Valley, earthquake ruins, and a Red-Army cultural site, something new is bringing more people to the area: Ese Tea. At seven o'clock in the morning, Jiaowu Droma, a 64-year-old Tibetan mother, gets up and goes with her partner, Lozang, to the tea-tree fields. The two of them used to live in the Zhuwo mountainside. Lozang was a carpenter, and Droma cared for barley fields. Together, the two of them have to support five children. Four years ago, they moved from 3,800 meters (12,467 feet) to the plain at 3,200 meters (10,499 feet) to be with others, but they still have no problem hiking back up the mountain to gather tea leaves and sell them to the local tea factory.

For the first time ever in their lives, the couple has opened a bank account and put some money away, and this is all thanks to the new income they have been receiving through picking tea leaves. "Half a kilo [1.1 pounds] earns us 120 yuan. After about one month of work together, we can usually get about 10,000. We used to be mountainside farmers and could only get 2,000 yuan a year!"

Droma's grandson was just accepted as a student at Chengdu University after having taken the arduous college entrance examinations. To pay for tuition, she took out 20,000 yuan that she had stashed away. "I'm only a farmer in the mountains, and my son does transportation down in the county seat. Now, my grandson is able to be a college student in Chengdu. Each generation is just faring better and better!"

The Chinese version of this story is written by Zhong Xianni and translated into English by Huang Wenjuan. And the story is sourced from the United Front Work Deparment of the Communist Party of China (CPC)Sichuan Provincial Committee.