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Chinese tea growers become world's oldest balloonists
Author£ºColourful Tea    Time£º2007-6-9    Hits£º544

Beijing, June. 9 (PTI): A 104-year-old tea grower and her 99-year-old fellow from southwest China's Sichuan Province, have been named the world's oldest hot air balloonists.

The two elderly women, Yang Zhangshi and her younger companion Nie Qinglian, received certificates from the Shanghai office of the Guinness Book of World Records today in their home village on a remote mountain in Sichuan.

"I've been growing tea on the mountains since I was a little girl -- I never even dreamed of flying," Yang was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

Yang and Nie were deemed the healthiest of the 1,300 tea growers aged over 85 working on the tea plantations on Mount Heibao on the famous Chinese Buddhist mountain of Emei Shan.

They were offered a free hot air balloon flight in a cleverly designed PR stunt by Emeishan Xianzhi Tea Products Co. Ltd, a local trader that buys green tea from the growers and sells it to worldwide dealers and tea drinkers.

The two balloonists did not travel far as the balloon hung 50 meters above a central square in Chengdu on March 31.

"It was great and I didn't feel sick or anything," said Yang. "It must be the same as boarding an airplane."

Nie said she was excited when crowds began to applaud and cheer on the square. "I have spent all my life growing tea in the mountain and have rarely had the chance to go out in the past."

"We arranged the flight to express our thanks to these hardworking people and to celebrate their harvesting of green tea," said Yang Zeyong, the tea company chairman.

The commercial motivation behind the balloon ride, he said, was for everyone to see the "magic effects" of green tea and the unpolluted environment on top of the mountain.


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