About Chinese Tea
The True Home of Tea
We have travelled all over China’s vast tea producing provinces and curated a small selection of the most fantastic teas.
China offers the greatest variety of teas in the world. With its long standing history of tea production, China is, without question, the original source of tea knowledge and carries some of the most rare, sought-after and expensive varieties. Tea was cultivated and processed in China centuries before it was grown anywhere else in the world. All six categories of tea are produced in China. A wide range of very high quality teas are hand-processed using techniques passed down over many generations.
World Famous Green Teas
Zhejiang is an exceptionally fertile province on China’s East coast. It produces more tea than any other province in China and is rightly famous for green tea, with a history of production dating back thousands of years. It is thought that Zhejiang was where Japanese monks in the sixth century AD originally experienced tea, and subsequently began importing tea seeds for cultivation in Japan. Hangzhou, the capital of the province is home to Dragon Well, China’s most famous tea, traditionally grown and produced in the hills around the city’s West Lake. Exceptional green teas are produced throughout the province, with each village or county having its own distinct traditional tea, produced by local masters. Some examples include Hui Ming Spring, Anji Green, Zi Sun and Jiande Bao Cha.
Amazing Variety and Expertise
Fujian is one of China’s most renowned tea producing provinces. It has a long history of producing some of the world’s finest teas. The capital, Fuzhou, is a major center of tea culture and Xiamen, the province’s port, has been associated with tea trade to the West for centuries. Tea production is generally split between the north (Minbei) and south (Minnan) of the province. Minbei tea is centred around the stunning Wuyi nature reserve, an area of towering rocky cliffs, winding rivers, caves and subtropical forest. Wuyi tea, also transliterated as Bohea, is famous across China for roasted oolong teas like Cassia and Big Red Robe, stunning black teas, and the original smoked tea – Lapsang, which is naturally smoked over local pine wood. In north Fujian, the focus is on rolled oolongs, predominantly Tieguanyin (Iron Buddha) from Anxi county. Beyond these famous terroirs, tea production in Fujian is incredibly varied with green, white, oolong, jasmine and black tea all traditionally produced. Fujian is also the original home of China’s best White teas, Fuding Silver Needle and White Peony.
The Home of Pu erh
Set in the subtropical far southwest of China, Yunnan is a fantastically diverse province encompassing snow-tipped mountains, deep gorges, rivers and jungle. Yunnan has the greatest biodiversity of any province in the country. Unlike elsewhere in China, the native tea variety is the Da Ye cultivar. This is used to make Pu erh tea. Yunnan is also one of China’s most ethnically diverse provinces. Some of the minority tribes live in mountainous nature reserves where Da Ye tea trees of 1000 years old can be found. Pu erh production is unique and the tea is suitable for storing and ageing. Pu erh production in Yunnan is centred around four main areas, Baoshan, Lincang, Pu erh and Xishuangbanna. Yunnan is now also well known for its rich, spicy Black teas, the most famous of which is Dian Hong or Yunnan Gold.
Green and Black Tea Classics
Anhui is an inland province of Southeast China and home to Mount Jiuhua, one of the four most famous Buddhist mountains in China. Huangshan, a rugged mountain range dotted with towering pine trees, in the south of Anhui, is home to the province’s most famous Green teas – Huangshan Maofeng and Taiping Hou Kui. Qimen County, also in the far south of the province is home to Keemun black teas, popular in Europe since the 19th century. Keemun Gong Fu is perhaps the most well known tea from this region, a beautifully balanced Black tea with a long, sweet finish.
An Oolong Tea Gem
While not as famous as other provinces in China for tea production, Guangdong is home to one of our favourite families of Oolong tea. From Phoenix Mountain in the east of the province, Phoenix teas are often picked from wild or semi-wild tea trees and mimic specific floral or fruit fragrances. As a longstanding trading hub, Guangdong’s capital Guangzhou is a centre for trading Pu erh tea, which is also commonly drunk with food across the province.
The Rarest Yellow Tea and Lush Green Teas
Located in south-central China, Hunan is a province surrounded by mountains draining into a central basin for tributaries of four major rivers, including the Yangtze. Hunan is home to China’s second largest fresh-water lake, Dongting Lake. Dongting Lake is also the location where the province’s most famous tea is produced: Jun Shan Silver Needle. Elsewhere, the rich soils and subtropical climate supports production of wonderfully rich Green teas and a fermented ‘dark tea’ hails from Anhua County.
An Ancient Seat of Tea Culture
Sichuan is an ancient seat of tea culture in China. Meng Ding Shan, southwest of the capital, Chengdu, was one of the first places where tea was cultivated more than 2000 years ago. Sichuan formed an important section of the Tea Horse Road, a trade route linking Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet, along which compressed bricks or discs of tea were transported around a thousand years ago. High quality tea is still produced on revered tea mountains including Meng Ding Shan and Emei Shan, on which our Sichuan Dew is produced. Today the capital Chengdu, despite very rapid modernisation, is home to a thriving teahouse culture. On weekends these spaces are social hubs in the city, where residents gather to enjoy tea, share snacks, play cards and catch up.
Needle Peaks and Fertile Valleys
Guangxi is home to some of China’s most spectacular scenery, with needle shaped karst formations jutting out of fertile winding river valleys. As such it has always been an inspiration for China’s artists and poets, and features in many of China’s most treasured works of art. Today, Guangxi is well known as a centre for Jasmine scented teas using flowers cultivated across the province. Green teas and Black teas are also produced in Guangxi, while the most distinctive is Liu Bao a type of dark tea that shares many similarities with Pu erh, being suited to storage and aging.