Tea farming and processing in China is not yesterday’s thing. It has a history of over 3,000 years as part of its culture and stands out as the second most consumed beverage in China. Notably, China is one of the largest tea exporters globally.
Tea is grown across various areas in China and tends to have different flavors. For this reason, this post discusses the best environmental conditions to grow tea and the regions where tea is grown in China.
What is the Ideal Environmental Condition for Growing Tea?
A Chinese proverb goes, “the finest tea comes from a good mountain and good water.” Literally, its meaning is what it sounds; the more profound meaning is that a good environment is a primary condition for high-quality tea. Luckily, China has one of the best environments for quality tea cultivation.
Chinese tea grown in areas with mountains and hillsides of more than 200 altitudes tends to be high quality. Other conditions favoring tea farming include an average temperature of 12 to 30 degrees Celsius or more but not more than 34 degrees Celsius and at least 5 hours of sunlight daily. An annual rainfall of about 1000 to 1500 mm is also needed. Lastly, tea tends to do better in soils with good drainage, less acidity, and a PH of 4.0-5.5. M.
In brief, quality tea grows in high-altitude areas (that are free from frost) with some hours of sunlight and a humid environment. Excess soil acidity, strong temperatures, or extreme cold environments may inhibit proper tea growth and easily result in poor-quality tea leaves.
The Best Place in China for Growing Tea
Major Chinese areas where tea is cultivated have all of the above requirements, thus making tea develop distinct and excellent flavors. Additionally, the areas have rich red soils with high mineral content and organic matter.
These areas include:
Xinan- Southwestern China
Xinan is the oldest tea-growing region, and it’s located in the southwest of China. It’s considered the original home of the Camellia sinensis plant. This region has a moderate climate across all altitudes that supports tea farming. It also experiences seasons of heavy rainfall.
Xinan region is known for producing quality and diverse tea profiles that include Pu’er, green, yellow, and black tea.
This region covers Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, and Southern Tibet areas.
Huanan- Southern China
Huanan is another prolific tea-growing region in China. It’s known to produce most of the tea in China. In addition, it supports the cultivation of various tea varieties, Thanks to its excellent climate and rich red soils.
Among the best-known provinces for tea farming in Huanan include Fujian, Guangxi, Guangdong, and Huanan. These areas are known to produce highly oxidized teas, such as black tea and Oolong tea, specifically the Tie Guan Yin, Baihao Zinzhen, and Da Hong Pao. However, other tea varieties, such as jasmine and white teas, are common.
Jiangbei – North of Yangtze
Jiangbei, located in the northern part of China, is another tea-growing region covering areas such as Gansu, Henan, Shandong, and Shaanxi and the northern part of Jiangsu, Hubei, and Anhui.
A cool climate with average temperatures characterizes the above areas in the Jiangbei region; therefore, it best suits tea varieties with small leaves. For this reason, green teas dominate these regions. Additionally, tea from this Jiangbei tends to have a distinctly sweet flavor than those varieties grown in the southern region of China.
Jiangnan- South of the Yangtze
Last on our list of best tea-growing regions in China is Jiangnan, the northern side of Huanan. Jiangnan is a significant player in China’s tea industry, producing approximately two-thirds of the country’s total output. This region comprises Zhejiang, Jiangxi, and southern parts of Jiangsu and Hubei.
Tea farms in Jiangnan are on the hills and mountains, thus providing great climatic conditions for tea farming. Green, black, and Oolong teas are the best-performing varieties in this region. Famous teas from Jiangnan include Long Jing, Hunan Shao Mao Feng, Ji Bai, and Tai Ping Hou Kui.
Most provinces in China have standard climatic conditions that support tea farming. However, the above four regions have the best conditions; thus, they dominate China’s tea cultivation. Above all, they produce quality tea exported all over the world.
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