China is without doubt the birthplace of tea, having been discovered there some 5000 years ago. With its vast landscape and diverse topography it is the world leader in tea production. Tea is grown throughout China’s southern provinces. There are 17 main tea growing regions Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi Zhuang, Guizhou, Hainan, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Shandong, Szechwan, Yunnan, and Zhejiang.
The majority of the teas grown in China are green but some provinces also produce yellow (Zhejiang, Sichuan, Anhui, Hunan, Guangdong), black (Hunan, Yunnan, Anhui, Fujian), white (Fujian, Yunnan), Oolongs (Fujian, Yunnan), Jasmine greens (Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Guangxi, Zhejiang), and pu-erh tea which comes exclusively from Yunnan province.
Although private investment today has led to the development of large, modern, mechanised factories, tea is still made by hand in many places and each village, or region, has its own particular method of processing the tea.
The Chinese always say that the best teas come from high mountains. The country’s tea mountains are treated with great reverence and respect, not just as places of great beauty and interest but also for their importance to the country’s economy. Some varietals of China’s teas are produced in such limited quantities that they are never exported.
China accounts for over 18% of the world’s tea exports.
Best time to visit China’s tea growing regions is in the Spring (April is good when the weather is a little warmer) and early summer.