The price of export tea has recently increased after experiencing a two-year downturn, according to the Vietnam Tea Association (VTA).

"After two years, the price has increased. In the first 10 months of this year, the average tea price was more than 1,460 USD per tonne, an increase of more than 11 percent over the same period last year," said Tran Van Gia, deputy chairman of the VTA.

In the northern province of Thai Nguyen, the national tea hub, the price currently stands at about 70 million VND (3,300 USD) per tonne, a year-on-year increase of roughly 20 percent, and that of higher-quality tea is much more, at between 90 million VND (4,200 USD) and 120 million VND (5,700 USD) per tonne.

"Vietnam's tea has become highly regarded in the world market. Its price has reached the regional level," Gia said.

"The price will continue to increase strongly, especially for the coming Lunar New Year Festival."

Thanks to the higher price, the total tea export turnover for the first 11 months of 2010 increased by 11.5 percent year-on-year to 182 million USD, a significant increase given that the export volume during that time increased by only 2 percent to 125,000 tonnes.

"The Vietnam tea industry has earned this reward because it has worked hard to improve quality and ensure food safety," Gia said, adding that the industry had held training courses for farmers to help them improve their produce.

Vietnam is the fifth largest exporter of tea in the world, shipping to 110 nations and territories. The "Che Viet" trademark is registered and protected in 70 markets.

Tea has played an important role in eradicating hunger and reducing poverty. About 6 million people in Vietnam work in the tea industry./.