Chinese provinces and tea production

Chinese provinces and tea production

China is the largest tea producer in the world, producing, exporting, and consuming more green tea leaves than any other country. As the legend says, tea was discovered in China 5000 years ago by a mythical Chinese emperor, Shennong, who accidentally tried his boiled water with a green leaf that had fallen into a cup.

Nowadays, 20 out of 32 provinces in China produce tea, with the only difference being the quantities produced. In this article, we will cover four main regions producing tea and discuss in detail which types of tea are grown in each area.

Tea production in China happens in many different provinces. To keep track of the various fluctuating variables of their production more easily, provinces are categorized in two ways: by grouped regions or by province belts.

There are three major belts:

  • The Eastern Belt includes Anhui, Zhejiang, and Fujian provinces
  • The Central Belt includes Shaanxi, Hubei, and Hunan provinces
  • The Western Belt consists of the Sichuan, Guizhou, and Yunnan Provinces

Division of provinces into belts offers a more precise measurement of production amounts, yields, and the expansion of new tea fields.

Three belts of Tea - major production of tea
Three belts of Tea - major production of tea - Mobile

However, provinces are more commonly divided into four main tea-producing regions based on geography and climate conditions.

  • Xinan - Southwestern China - includes Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Chongqing, and southern Tibet provinces
  • Huanan - Southern China - includes Fujian, Guangdong, Taiwan, Guangxi, and Hainan provinces
  • Jiangnan - South of the Yangtze River - Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Hunan, Hubei, and southern parts of Anhui and Jiangsu
  • Jiangbei - North of the Yangtze River - Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Shandong, and northern parts of Anhui
Four regions of Tea production in China

Each region has its individualities. The differences lie mostly in weather conditions and the historical development of tea production on their land. Even though provinces are grouped into regions or belts, each is prominent for something. Below, we will discover centers of interest in the regions and tea-producing provinces.


Let's begin our deep dive from the Xinan region, which is the homeland of camellia sinensis, the mother plant of most teas. This makes Xinan the oldest tea-producing region in China.

Xinan is a southwestern area that covers Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Chongqing and southern Tibet provinces and has a moderately stable climate. As history goes, an ancient trading route, the Tea Horse Road, had part of its path going through these lands. Nowadays, however, Xinan isn't the most plenteous region in China, but it is still highly valued for its prominent black and green teas of a mature ancestry.

Xinan provinces grow a wide variety of tea types: green, black, dark, red, yellow (Sichuan), jasmine (Sichuan), and pu-erh (Yunnan). Yunnan is believed to be the birthplace of Pu-erh tea - aged, fermented, and compressed "King of Teas" with a complex developing taste.

Famous teas that are grown in Xinan are:

  • Yunnan Mao Feng (Yunnan, green)
  • Du Yun Mao Jian (Guizhou, green)
  • Gui Ding Yun Wu (Guizhou, green)
  • Meng Ding Cha - Mengding Sweet Dew (Sichuan, green)
  • Yunnan Gold Black Tea (Yunnan, black)
  • Tiger Mountain Raw Pu-erh (Yunnan, pu-erh)
  • Song Zhen Dian Hong - Pine Needle (Yunnan, black)


Huanan is a hot and humid Southern region of China that includes Fujian, Guangdong, Taiwan, Guangxi, and Hainan provinces. The weather conditions over the Huanan territory make the land ideal for growing tea for up to 10 months per year.

The Huanan region is rich in red soil—soil that develops in warm, temperate, and humid climates of tropical and subtropical regions of China—that is abundant in iron and aluminum, with little organic matter, strong acidity, and heavy clay. This red soil allows the increased production of highly oxidized types of tea, like black tea or oolong.

As mentioned, the variety of teas in the Huanan region consists mostly of black and oolong teas, as well as occasional jasmine and white teas. The latter two are mostly produced for tourist attraction and export interests.

The most famous tea types of Huanan are:

  • Liu Bao (Guangxi, black)
  • Tieguanyin (Fujian, oolong)
  • Da Hong Pao (Wuyi Mountains, Fujian, oolong)

Out of the three types, Da Hong Pao is the most famous. It is mainly produced in Wuyishan, a mountain region of Fujian province. Da Hong Pao has a unique orchid fragrance and a long-lasting sweet aftertaste. It is not only famous for its taste properties but also due to a surprising situation when, in 2002, 20 grams of Da Hong Pao tea was auctioned for 22 000 USD - 30 times the price for its weight in gold. However, that specific batch was a batch of tea made out of the Da Hong Pao mother trees, but there are many more affordable versions made out of younger plants descended from the mother trees.


The Jiangnan region is a subtropical region of China covering the territories south of the Yangtze River. Provinces belonging to the Jiangnan region include Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Hunan, Hubei, and southern parts of Anhui and Jiangsu. Due to a subtropical pleasant climate with four definitive seasons and lots of rain, the Jiangnan region is an epicenter of the Chinese tea industry, producing two-thirds of the total output.

However, with the four-season climate comes ruthless sunny summers. To hide from the sun's impact, all tea farms in Jiangnan are located in the mountains, where mountain cold balances out the warmth of the climate.

For some people, the Jiangnan region is most known for its green teas, for some for its high-quality black and oolong tea, and others say that the most value of Jiangnan teas comes from the beautiful lands they were grown on. The most renowned examples of teas from Jiangnan are:

  • Smoky black Keemun tea, whose birthplace and name originate from Qimen village, lies underneath the Yellow Mountain in Anhui province.
  • Green Longjing tea or Dragon Well Superior - one of China's most famous green teas - is grown on the hills around Hangzhou's West Lake in the Zhejiang province. For many years, Dragon Well was a tribute tea enjoyed exclusively by the royal families.
  • Green organic Bi Luo Chun tea, meaning "Jade Curly Spring Tea," grows alongside plum and bayberry, which abundantly bloom in spring. This brings more floral aroma and delicate youthful flavors to the tea. The type comes from a scenery-rich Xishan island in Jiangsu province.
The tea tree of Longjing - Dragonwell tea

Beautiful fresh green Chinese Longjing tea plantation. Hangzhou Xi Hu west lake.


Jiangbei is China's most northern tea-growing region, covering the territories north of the Yangtze River. In fact, Jiangbei provinces Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Shandong, and northern parts of Anhui are as far north as one can go growing tea before the climate becomes too cold and dry.

Due to the rough climate, green teas of small leaf types are the only viable option to go with tea production in Jiangbei. Lack of warmth forces teas to grow slower, in return allowing them to develop more intricate tastes. Jiangbei produces some of the country's oldest and most renowned teas, such as:

  • Lu’an Melon Seed (Lu’an City, Anhui, green)
  • Henan's Xinyang Maojian (Henan, green)

Chinese tea production has a rich history that goes back to the invention of tea itself. Stay tuned to learn about the various aspects of tea and its intricate details!


  • Wild China: The 4 Tea Regions of China
  • Firsd Tea: China Green Tea Origins By Province
  • Tea by Birdy: China: The Birthplace of Tea
  • TeaLao: Da Hong Pao. Brief Story
  • KuCha: Turn to Jiangnan Tea Region
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