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China Tea Facts

China Tea Facts

China's cultural and geographical diversity means that there are a seemingly endless range of tea varieties.

One of the striking aspects of China's tea industry is that almost all the tea produced, unlike in India, Africa and Sri Lanka,  is consumed by the internal market. Maybe its because of the 2000+ years of tea history, tea,  in one form or another is a fundamental part of daily life for rich and poor alike. 


Here we will take a brief look at some of the key regions behind a few of the teas and tea wares we enjoy. Due to the large range of teas from FuJian and YunNan we have set up dedicated tea facts pages to better explore these regions.


ZheJiang

Located in the East of China, bordering Shanghai and the other well know tea producing provinces of Fujian & AnHui. ZheJiang is China's largest tea producer by output, production area and also export.

Zhejiang's capital is the renowned city of HangZhou, which is also the home of the Chinese national tea museum and the famous West Lake (Xi Hu). If you have the opportunity, a trip to the famous West Lake in Hangzhou is highly recomended. Travel from Shanghai is very easy as the cities are connected by China's high speed rail system. By the West Lake you will see many people enjoying their Long Jing green tea in tall glasses; it is a great place to enjoy tea whilst relaxing and watching the world go by. 

The majority of Zhejiang's tea production is given over to green teas such as Long Jing (Dragon Well), though An Ji white tea is another famous Zhejiang tea. It is said that the best Long Jing teas should be prepared using water from Hu pao quan or Running Tiger Spring to be at their best.

Zhe-Jiang province is also home to the Long-Quan kilns. Here they have produced much sort after ceramics since the early part of the BEI-SONG (Northern Song 960-1127AD) period. It was during the NAN-SONG (Southern Song 1127-1279AD) period that the kilns reached a most glorious period where their output increased alongside their quality. It is said that when you have the opportunity to look upon these ceramics and touch them, the sensation is like that of jade.

JiangSu

JiangSu is located in the Eastern part of China, bordering Zhejiang, Anhui and ShanDong.

One of JiangSu's most famous teas is Bi Luo Chun (green snail spring), a green tea produced near Dong Ting Lake. Another name for this tea was Xia Sha Ren Xiang or deadly fragrant tea! Because of this tea's amazing fragrance it was given as a Tribute Tea to the emperor, who although loving the tea was not so impressed with its name! The emperor renamed the tea Bi Luo Chun, as it is a spring tea and the shape of the curled tea leaves reminded him of a snail.

Yang Xian tea was a classic tea during the Tang dynasty (618-907) of JiangSu. The tea was made famous by the founding father of tea, Lu Yu, a JiangSu native, and his 'Classic of Tea'. Such reference meant that it was not long before the emperor requested that a Tribute of Yang Xian be sent to his court, further ensuring that it remained a famous tea.

JiangSu's legacy to tea reaches beyond its range of fine teas through its tea pots and tea-ware. In particular, tea pots and tea-ware fashioned from ZiSha clay, or purple sand, extracted from the surrounding hills of YiXing, including the famous Huang Long mountain, ensure the areas standing in tea culture. In tribute to JiangSu's classic products of Yi Xing zi sha and Yang Xian tea, there are those that refer to some tea pots as Yang Xing.

AnHui

AnHui is home to famous teas such as Mao Feng green tea and Qi Hong (or Qi Men hong cha or red tea), known in the west as Keemun black tea. Qi Men was one of the original black teas that started the tea craze in Europe. Today, almost all Qi Men black tea is exported, this often means finding it is China is quite difficult.

Mao Feng and Mao Jian green teas typically come from the regions around Huang Shan, the 'Yellow Mountains' and Qi Men. One of the largest markets for the Huang Shan Mao Feng can be found in the town of She Xian. From here the teas are distributed around China.

The town of Tai Ping, home of the beautiful long green tea leaves of Tai Ping Hou Kui, is also located in AnHui.

JiangXi

Zhu ye qing is a well known green tea from JiangXi however the province's most famous association with tea along with its consumption is most likely JingDeZhen.

JingDeZhen is a city county in JiangXi. It is the home of the world famous porcelains that have been exported throughout the world, especially during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The fine porcelain of the region, along with its skilled artisans, has captured the hearts and minds of many. The tea sets and tea cups of JingDeZhen can be found in the form of pure white porcelain or hand finished in a most wonderful range of designs.

It is believed that ceramics production may have begun in JingDeZhen as early as the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD. 220), certainly by the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-906) it was a thriving industrial area. By the Song dynasty (960-1280) JingDeZhen was given it's current name by virtue of emperor Jingde (1004-1007) who commissioned many wares for use by the imperial family. The latter part of the Song Dynasty saw increasing amounts of porcelain wares being exported, though it was not until the Mongol Emperor's Yuan dynasty (1280-1368) that these porcelain wares became truly renowned outside of China. It was in the Qing Dynasty that both trade volumes as well as artistic excellence rose to their peaks combining to make region renowned as the home of fine ceramics.

For even more on this fascinating history and topic please visit our Tea Culture web links page for more external sources of information about JingDeZhen.

TaiWan

Taiwan, often called Formosa, the name given it by Portuguese traders meaning "beautiful island." The majority of Taiwan's tea production is oolong. Taiwan's population is closely related to that of sea faring Min Nan people of China's Fujian province. Famous Taiwan Oolong's or Formosa Oolong's include Gao Shan Oolong (Tall mountain oolong), Dong Ding Oolong and Bao Zhong (Pou Chong).

In the early years of its economic growth, much of Taiwan's tea was exported to the mainland. However, recent economic prosperity has produced a local population with a taste for very refined oolongs thus most of these quality teas never leave the island. This includes an ever increasing volume of quality organic teas. Presently, only about two percent of the island's famous teas are exported. These fall into three categories: fuller oxidised dark oolongs, jade oolongs, and the lightly oxidised, almost-green pouchong oolong tea.

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