The first-ever Tea International Festival opens in northern Thai Nguyen province on Nov. 11 in support of local production and information exchange with international dealers.

As many as 3,000 tourists and members from the World Tea Association will join various activities, including exhibitions, international workshops on tea, beauty contests, tea tasting ceremonies and traditional art performances, during the five-day event.

Ma Thi Nguyet, provincial chairwoman, said that local authorities and enterprises had invested hundreds of billions of dong in renovating access roads to the Tan Cuong tea growing area.

More than 20 teashops have sprung up along the road to Coc Lake , a famed scenic spot located 15km southwest of the city centre.

The organising board has additionally mobilised 1,000 volunteers, mainly consisting of local students, to serve as guides during the festival.

"We will allow visitors to come to pick tea leaves for themselves, dry them and make a cup or two," said Tran Van Thang, a tea grower from the Tan Cuong Commune, "Specially processed tea, worth millions of dong per kilogramme, will also be on offer."

An art show in praise of tea culture will take place by Coc Lake tonight while another party will be organised on August 20 Square in the city on Nov. 14 night, where local tea growers, domestic and international tea enterprises and tourists can interact and exchange experience.

With a total tea growing area of 17,000ha and an annual production volume of 120,000 tonnes, Thai Nguyen ranks second (after Lam Dong in the Central Highlands ) in the list of the largest tea growing localities in the country.

The province has become famous for tea products, which have reached far away markets such as Russia , the Middle East and the European Union./.