I did not plan to write about this topic but I’ve had a large number of people reaching out to me with questions. There has also been a disturbing trend of tea companies taking advantage of their customer’s fears to increase sales. First and foremost, let me make this very clear: you cannot contract the Coronavirus from drinking Chinese tea.
What the Experts Say
The virus is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. Most coronaviruses are not stable on hard surfaces. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment published this information:
There are currently no cases which have shown any evidence of humans being infected with the new type of coronavirus by another route, such as via the consumption of contaminated food or via imported toys. There are also no known reports for other coronaviruses about infections due to food or contact with dry surfaces. Transmission via surfaces which have recently been contaminated with viruses is, nonetheless, possible through smear infections. However, this is only likely to occur during a short period after contamination, due to the relatively low stability of coronaviruses in the environment.German Federal Institute for Risk Assesment – Can the new type of coronavirus be transmitted via food and toys?
The World Health Organization has also stated similar findings.
Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.World Health Organization – Q&A on coronaviruses
You may have noticed companies like Yunnan Sourcing putting a hold on shipping. It is important to keep in mind that the outbreak ran into the start of the Chinese New Year. Shipping and logistics operations in China are typically closed from January 25th through approximately February 8th. This would have happened, as it does every year, regardless of the outbreak.
What Tea Drinkers Should Do
I do not mean to downplay the severity of the situation. There are a lot of people suffering because of this outbreak. However, I think panicking and spreading misinformation will not do any good either. Tea drinkers should continue to buy and drink Chinese tea as you normally would. There is absolutely no cause for you to stop drinking wonderful teas liked Dragonwell, Tie Guan Yin, or Bi Luo Chun. Personally, I will be making it a point to avoid companies who try to use this epidemic for their own personal gains.