Tea drinking has long been an important aspect of Chinese culture. Anecdotally the story of tea begins in the South West in 2737 B.C. where according to legend the Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree when some leaves from the Camellia sinensis tree blew into the pot of water his servant was boiling. Shen Nung, a renowned herbalist, decided to try the infusion and was pleased. The resulting drink was what we now call tea, though it remained a medicinal drink for millennia.
It was not until the Tang and Song Dynasties that tea showed some significance in Chinese tradition. During the mid-Tang Dynasty (780 A.D.), a scholar named Lu Yu published the first definitive book on tea: Cha Ching or The Tea Classic. Written after spending more than twenty years studying the subject.
Tea continued to be popularised down the years becoming the inspiration of many books, poems, songs, and paintings. Between the Yuan and Qing Dynasties, the technology of tea production continuously advanced. During this period, tea houses and other tea-drinking establishments were opening up all over China.
This long history of cultivating tea has allowed Chinese craftsmanship to become highly sophisticated over time. Now, different regions of China are associated with a hugely diverse range of teas, for example:
Yunnan produces the most amount of tea by weight, and remains important for its ancient ties to tea. Here you can find the oldest wild tea trees in China. Today, they are well-known for the production of Pu Erhs.
Fujian has been developing its local tea-growing techniques since the Song dynasty. It produces some of the most well-known teas, things like: Lapsang Souchong, White Monkey, various Jasmine Greens.
Other than a few small areas bordering Shanghai, the whole of Zhejiang province is one huge plantation. Red soil and a mild subtropical climate contribute to the development of a tea growing region that produces Green tea all year round. It is here that you will find the world-famous Long Jing Dragonwell green tea.
Anhui is located in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and is a major tea-growing province. Tea growing in the northern region dates back to the Tang dynasty (618AD-907AD), Keemun Black is produced here.