Chinese tea belongs
and sold by a single organisation, The National Native Produce &
Animal By-Products Import & Export Corporation of the People's
Republic of China.
The tea has been cultivated in China for almost 2000 years. Until
the 1880's, China dominated the global tea trade. A large number
of teas are still produced in many provinces in the country. Below
are some of the major teas producing provinces in China.
Anhwei is one of the
smallest of the 21 provinces in China. Anhwei has been famous for
its tea since the 7th century, when teas were exported to the rest
of China, as well as abroad. The tea trade didn't do very well in
the late 19th and early 20th centuries but has now revived; Keemun,
the "red teas of China" form Chi-men is especially famous. The main
areas of cultivation are on the slopes of the Ta-pieh Mountains,
north of the Yangtze, and on the Paichi Mountains along the Anhwei-Chekiang
border. Fine Keemuns have slender, tightly curled leaves. China
produces 5 different standards of Keemun and the finest is North
Huang-shan is practically
synonymous with tea, for there the leaves are processed from such
well known nearby producing areas as Ch'i-men, Hsiu-ning, and She-hsien
in Anhwei and Ching-te-chen and Wu-yüan in neighboring Kiangsi province.
In this area some 60 percent of the rural population is engaged
in tea production. Tea from Huang-shan is exported all over China,
as well as abroad. Since 1949 an extensive tea-processing plant
has been established there.
Yunnan is the fourth
largest province of China. It is a mountain and plateau region on
China's southwestern frontier. It is bounded by the Tibet on the
northwest, Szechwan on the north. To the south and southeast it
adjoins Laos and Vietnam, and to the west it borders Burma for 600
miles (950 kilometers). Red soil of various ages covers both the
eastern and western regions of Yunnan. The tea bushes in Yunnan
produces thick, broad and glossy leaves. The yun in Yunnan means
cloud and most of the teas are cultivated in altitudes between 3000
and 7000 feet. (2700-6400 meters).
Fukien is located along
China's southeast coast, northwest of the island of Taiwan. About
95 percent of the province is mountainous. The export of tea from
Fu-chou to the Fukien is a great tea-growing province with a large
domestic market. A special feature is its production of flower-scented
teas, for the manufacture of which there are factories in Fu-chou.
Wu-i Mountains is a
mountain range on the border between Fukien and Kiangsi provinces.
The individual peaks of the Wu-i range rise up to about 1,800 m.
The area is renowned for its fine tea. From the 13th to the 17th
century the government maintained special offices in the area to
control tea production. Tea has been grown around Wu-i (Wuyi) for
1000 years and it has been regarded as one of China's best teas
and exported all over the world. England and Germany have been customers
for some 400 years. In fact, 200 years ago all tea imported into
England was known as Wu-i tea.
Some 2000 varieties
of tea are produced in Wu-i, but the bulk is of the Oolong variety,
famous for its mild flavour and unique fragrance, and 500 tons are
produced annually. The leaves are harvested three times a year.
Those destined to become Oolong are brought to the factory to be
Amoy is a city and
port on the coast of southern Fukien. In the 19th century Amoy was
preeminently a tea port, exporting teas from southeastern Fukien.
The peak of this trade was reached in the 1870s but then declined,
after which Amoy became the chief market and shipping port for Taiwanese
tea produced by local growers who had immigrated to that island.
Chekiang is the second
smallest of the People's Republic of China, and one of the country's
most densely populated. Due to the province's hilly topography,
only about one-fifth of its land surface is arable. The climate
is humid and subtropical controlled chiefly by monsoon airflows.
World War II caused serious damage to the tea industry as tea gardens
were abandoned and aging shrubs were not replaced. During the 1950s
a systematic rehabilitation and development program was undertaken.
Improved methods of tea cultivation and processing were introduced
and new orchards established, and the province resumed its position
as China's leading tea producer.
Hunan is located in
central China at the crossroads of two historic lines of communication--the
great waterway of the Yangtze River, which flows from Szechwan province
east to the sea, and the Imperial Highway, running from Canton north
to Peking. More than one-fourth of Hunan's terrain lies at elevations
above 1,650 feet (500 m), and much of it is well over 3,000 feet
(900 m) above sea level and red and black tea are grown on the foothills
of the Hsüeh-feng Mountains and on Mount Mu-fu on the eastern border.