Our co-founder Karen gives an overview of this tea-producing province in eastern China, home to 3 of the Top 10 most famous Chinese teas
Fresh budding tea leaves growing in Anhui, photographed by Karen in April 2017
Top 10 Chinese Famous Teas — A Rundown
How many famous teas are there in China? The renowned Encyclopedia of Famous Chinese Tea <中国名茶志>, published in 2000, recorded a whopping total of 1017 famous Chinese teas hailing from 19 tea-producing provinces across China.
With so many famous teas and many other undocumented types out there, making it to China’s Top 10 List is no small feat. Various versions of the Top 10 List exist throughout the years. Perhaps the earliest one ever reported stems from year 1915 based on the Chinese premium teas exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco.
The table below identifies the 10 teas that have appeared the most on the various Top 10 Lists between 1915 to 2002.
Anhui — Home to 3 out of 10 Most Famous Teas
The province of Anhui, located in the eastern part of China, spans an area of 139,600 sq km (54,531 sq mi, about the size of North Carolina) with a population of 60 million. It is undoubtedly the champion of the list with three representatives, which are: Huangshan Maofeng (aka Yellow Mountain Fur Peak), Luan Guapian and Qimen (aka Keemun) Black Tea.
Anhui Province, China
Tea production in Anhui can be traced back to the Qin and Han Dynasties over 2000 years ago (B.C. 221 to A.D. 220). By Jin Dynasty (A.D. 226 to 420), the tea industry in Anhui was so vibrant that it had become a ‘tribute tea’ producing region for the imperial courts. Tea export (e.g. Songluo green tea) from Anhui began as early as between 1661 to 1722 during the Qing Dynasty.
In the Encyclopedia of Famous Chinese Tea <中国名茶志>, 89 teas from Anhui are listed. The map below features some of the more widely known Anhui teas.
Examples of Famous Anhui Teas (G — Green, Y — Yellow, B — Black)
Anhui is situated in a transitional zone between temperate and subtropical climates with Yangtze River (aka Chang Jiang) and Huai River running through it. Anhui can be divided into three regions: (1) Huaibei (North of Huai River), (2) Jianghuai (between Yangtze River and Huai River) and (3) Jiangnan (South of Yangtze River). Tea plantations are in the Jianghuai and Jiangnan regions.
The three regions of Anhui
The mountainous Jiangnan region has a mild and humid climate with an average annual temperature between 15°C (59°F) and 16°C (60.8°F) and average annual rainfall of 1000 to 1600 mm. The region mostly covered by yellow earth with an acidic pH level between 4 to 6.
The Jianghuai region has a slightly lower average annual temperature between 14°C (57.2°F) and 16°C (60.8°F) with extreme low temperature that can drop below 0°C (<32°F). In addition, it receives lower average annual precipitation than the Jiangnan Region at 800 to 1500 mm. Soil types are mainly red earth with an acidic pH level in the range of 4.8 to 5.5. Due to the more extreme weather, cold tolerant tea varieties are planted in this region.
In our next article, we will go up close to some of the famous teas in Anhui as recounted in our recent trip to tour the spring tea harvest in April 2017.
Lixi Village in Anhui, photographed by Karen in April 2017
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