Mexico Ships First Load Of 'Blue Agave' Tequila To China

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In this photo taken Sept. 23, 2011, a man dressed as an agave cutter, known as a jimador, welcomes tourist at the Tequila Herradura factory in Amatitan, Mexico. The green mountain valleys surrounding Tequila are spotted with fields of blue agave, the plant that is fermented to make the drink. The vast fields and the large factories that distill the spirit have been declared a World Heritage Site, which generates local pride for a town that might otherwise be overlooked. (AP Photo/Bernardo De Ni | AP

MEXICO CITY — Mexico has shipped its first load of blue agave tequila to China in hopes of turning the Asian nation into the biggest market for the alcoholic beverage after the U.S.

The shipment of more than 70,000 bottles contains nearly 14,000 gallons of 100 percent blue agave tequila, considered the best quality.

A Friday ceremony in Guadalajara marked the departure of the $412,000 shipment for the Pacific port of Manzanillo. Mexico says the shipment will arrive in China in 25 to 35 days.

Chinese President Xi Jinping in June lifted the previous import ban on Mexico's 100 percent blue agave tequila. The methanol content was considered too high until Chinese authorities had a change of opinion after visiting with President Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico.