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Price of Chinese mahogany leaves drops after ‘xiangchun freedom’ hype

Yesterday, we mentioned that prices of Chinese mahogany leaves, a delicacy in some parts of China, had skyrocketed to 200 yuan ($30) for 500 grams at some markets in Beijing, making the basil-tasting vegetable a symbol of wealth among the Chinese middle class. Now the price of the vegetable has dropped to 38 yuan ($5.60) for 500 grams in Beijing and 25 yuan ($3.70) at some other markets.

Mahogany leaves, also known as toons in English or xiāngchūn 香椿 in Chinese, have long been used as a food delicacy in many places, especially in northern Chinese cooking. One common dish is stir-fried mahogany leaves with eggs. Pickled toons are also a common sight on Chinese dining tables.

Since the news of high-priced mahogany leaves has been circulating online, many internet users coined a new phrase, “xiangchun freedom,” to describe people who have the financial capability to afford such expensive vegetables. At its peak, the price of 500 grams of the leaves reached a similar level as one lobster, 10 abalone, or 39 crayfish.

It was unclear why the price of the vegetable suddenly rose. The vegetables, which are leaves of the Chinese mahogany tree, are only harvested a few times each year in a specific season. At least for now, you don’t have to be rich to be able to afford having a taste!

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Jia Guo

Jia Guo is from the coastal city of Qingdao. She has an M.A. in multimedia journalism from NYU and has worked at Facebook and Bloomberg TV in New York City.