China is the place where tea originated. But did you also know there are many other interesting things about the world’s oldest tea civilization? Below we break down the top 10 most interesting facts about Chinese Tea and its history.
Chinese Tea Facts
- Earliest Book on Tea: Lu Yu’s “The Classic of Tea” from the Tang Dynasty is one of the earliest books ever written on tea. It serves as a foundational text for understanding tea culture.
- Largest Tea Gardens: China boasts the world’s largest tea gardens, covering a total area of 16 million mu (around 2.6 million acres). This accounts for approximately 45% of the world’s total tea gardens.
- Most Tea Varieties: China is home to an astounding diversity of tea varieties. There are approximately 350 different types of tea trees in China, with over 60 in active production.
- Largest Green Tea Producer and Importer: Green tea production is the highest in China, with a total world production capacity of 350,000 tons. China is also the world’s largest importer of green tea, accounting for 66% of total production and 72% of total trading.
- Earliest Seed Selection for Tea Trees: Research indicates that seed selection for tea trees began in the Jin Dynasty, predating written records. “Dongxi Tea Test Record” suggests that seed selection for tea trees has a history of approximately a thousand years.
- Comprehensive Research and Education System: China has a robust tea research and education system. It boasts 10 higher education institutes offering specialized tea majors and has the highest number of students studying tea-related subjects worldwide. Additionally, there are two national tea research institutions and 13 provincial tea research institutions.
- Earliest Discovery and Use of Tea: Legend has it that Chinese Emperor Shen Nong discovered tea’s medicinal properties before 2730 BC. He used tea to counteract poisons, marking China’s use of tea for approximately 4,700 years.
- Earliest Tea Trading and Exporting: China was among the earliest countries to trade tea as a beverage with foreign countries. During the Xihan Dynasty, Chinese tea was traded internationally. In the early 9th century, Chinese tea was first introduced to Japan and later to countries like Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka.
- Most Tea Varieties: In addition to the well-known “Ten Famous Teas” (e.g., Longjing, Biluochun, Maofeng, etc.), China boasts 50 other renowned teas, each with unique flavors and characteristics.
- Widest Variety of Commercial Tea Types: China produces a wide variety of commercial teas. Beyond black, green, white, yellow, Oolong, and pressed teas, there are processed instant teas, tea bags, health teas, and tea beverages. These come in various grades, resulting in thousands of tea species to choose from.