China is the largest tea producing country in the world. In fact, many regions in China produce tea from the most southern Hainan island province all the way up the more northern Shandong province. China is not only the largest producer of tea, but also the largest consumer: On the average, each person steeps about 0.57kg of tea leaves a year. Multiply that by its 1.4 billion population, and you can imagine that’s a lot of tea.
When asking the question: Which tea regions and provinces in China produce tea? You might as well ask which areas aren’t producing. In fact, more than 20 provinces in China actually produce tea to some extent, though there’s a large differences in total output per province. Most of tea is grown in the South-Western and South-Eastern part of China.
4 Tea Growing Regions
Traditionally, the tea producing areas aren’t divided by provincial borders. Instead they are categorised in 4 main growing regions. This is because provincial borders aren’t as relevant compared to climate and growing conditions.
Southwest China: ‘Xinan’ 西南
This region includes the provinces Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou and some southern parts of Tibet. It features many varieties of large tea trees. The most representative tea types are green, black and dark (pu erh) tea.
The Xinan region is by far the latest tea producing region in the world when it comes to the production of tea from wild tea trees.
South China: ‘Huanan’ 华南
This region includes the provinces Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Fujian and Taiwan. This region has according to tea experts the most suitable climate with the best tea growing conditions for cultivated tea gardens. All tea types are represented by this region, but this region is the largest producer of black, white and oolong tea.
South of Yangtze River: ‘Jiangnan’ 江南
This region is situated between middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze river and includes the provinces: Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Hunan as well as the southern part of Jiangsu, Hubei and Anhui. Due to cooler climate this region is the larger region for producing for green tea, but also produces a smaller amount of yellow and black tea.
North of Yangtze River: ‘Jiangbei’ 江北
This region includes the provinces Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu and Shangdong as well as the northern part of Anhui, Jiangsu and Hubei. With the coolest climate this region is only suitable for growing tea trees of smaller leaf kinds, as they are more resistant to cool temperatures. Therefore, this region mainly produces green tea.