by Marzia De Giuli, Song Jian
MILAN, Italy, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- Tea could not be missed at the ongoing biggest international event on food and beverage, Expo Milano 2015, where the China Pavilion on Monday inaugurated a week entirely dedicated to Chinese tea and its rich culture.
The business and culture representatives of tea industry, the tourism world and university system from China and Italy gathered at the world exposition in Milan for an event that Marco Bertona, Chairman of the Tea Association of Italy, defined as very important both for the Expo and for Italy.
"We had never hosted in Italy so many tea experts from China all together and so many companies representing the excellence of Chinese tea," Bertona told Xinhua in an interview on the sidelines of Monday's opening ceremony.
The event, named "Chinese Tea Culture Week," is set to last until Sunday, with several tea ceremonies and tea tasting events that will give international visitors the possibility to taste different specialities of the world beloved beverage.
The closing ceremony, Bertona disclosed to Xinhua, will present top tea brands selected out of a big contest held in China.
"When we speak about tea we are speaking of China," he went on saying. "Tea is a beverage that cannot be sold only as a commercial product, because a tea culture is needed," he added.
Bertona underlined there is a new consumer group, which is increasing not only in Italy but all around the world, "of people who seek quality, they seek leaf tea, they seek pure tea, they seek the original tea."
However, Vice Chairman of Chinese Tea Culture International Exchange Association Wu Zhibin underlined, China despite being a large producer of tea is not strong enough as regards exports of tea leaves, tea extracts and deep-processing elements which are the fundamentals of tea industry.
As an expert of the sector, Wu believes in the importance of tea culture based on a solid tea industry.
There is still much to be done, China's tea experts are still on the way thus need the help of all channels in order to strengthen and internationalize China's tea industry, he told Xinhua.
"Only if the Chinese tea industry is strong, the Chinese tea culture can be innovative and can be promoted all around the world," Wu went on saying.
He praised the Chinese Tea Culture Week as an occasion to support top brands of Chinese tea industry in their path towards growth and worldwide development.
According to latest figures from China's tea industry, in 2014 there were more than 2.7 million hectares of tea crops, more than 200,000 tea companies and over 30 million tea farmers in the Asian country. The tea production value exceeded 350 billion RMB (over 56 billion U.S. dollars).
The education system also plays a key role in promoting the tea industry and culture in China and abroad, Sheng Jianxue, the Secretary-General of China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE), noted.
Now all universities of China have at least one student organization dedicated to tea culture, so that Chinese people can develop a deep knowledge of tea culture since they are young, he said.
A team of university students selected among the ones with strongest tea expertise across China participated in Monday's opening ceremony to show international visitors the charm of tea ceremony and invite them to experience the best of Chinese tea.