Guizhou’s tea variety and tea culture

The Qinglong tea fossil discovered in 1980 is the only tea fossil the world has found up to now, it indicates that the history of tea trees in Guizhou goes back to more than 1 million years. Guizhou has more than 6 hundred varieties of tea tress; it is one of the provinces that are most rich in tea tree resources, especially two of varieties:Meitan-tai and Shiqian-tai,are excellent tea trees in China. At the same time, Guizhou is the homeland of tea tress and tea cultivation, since the Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty; tea plantation had become a major industry in Guizhou. For a long time, different ethnic groups developed close relationships with tea; tea culture in ethnic cultural and economic history depends on the common prosperity shared with the history of civilization in Guizhou.

Tea trees have lived on earth for between 60-70 million years; however, around one hundred and forty million years ago a tremendous change in the earth crust occurred and began to shape the geomorphy of the Guizhou Plateau. About 60 million years after that, another crustal movement caused an orogeny, Guizhou’s terrain was affected by the rapid uprising of the Himalayas, producing its current terrain, which is lower on the east and higher on the west. The two 60 million years are not accidental coincidence. Tea trees originated in the Triassic period, from the perspective of the earth’s developmental history, Guizhou is the land that was lifted and formed in the Triassic period, the Guizhou plateau happens to be the region where Triassic Karst is the most complete, rich and concentrated on the planet; its karst topography has so many different shapes that no other southern tea region in China can match. Guizhou’s ecologically well-balanced and acidic karst stratum distributes countless tall wild tea trees. It is difficult to find another place similar to Guizhou in China’s and even the whole world’s tea regions, ancient and beautiful Guizhous not only is one of the first and finest place for human inhabitancy, it is also a rare land most suitable for tea plantation.

The Chinese discovered tea trees, and the Chinese as medicine and then as beverage. These are universally acknowledged facts. In 1824, Bolu found a 13-meter-long, almost 1-meter-perimeter tea tree. This solider used this as evidence to presume that tea tree originated in India. British botanist Bobolaike, Brown, Epson and Japanese Kato fan followed him to advocate the idea that India was the birthplace of tea.

In 1919, a Dutch man named Cohen Strut proposed a binay theory, suggesting that big-leaf-tea tree originate in Sichuan, Yunnan in the eastern Tibeten Plateau as well as Vietnam, Burma, Thailand and India; small-leaf-tea tree originate in Eastern and South-eastern China. In 1935, an American named William Wukes proposed pluralism, suggesting that tea leafs originate in Southeastern Asia’s regions, including northern Thailand, Eastern Burma, Vietnam, Yunnan, India. 1974, a British named Eden believed that the birthplace of tea was neither China nor India, but Burma. To discover the truth, scientists from all over the world conducted large investigation of the distribution; change and kinship of tea trees in the spirit of seeking truth and most of the researches confirmed that China was the real birthplace of tea trees. In 1935, the science group organized by Indian tea committee investigated the large wild tea trees discovered in India, eventually botanist Dr. Wallis and Dr Grefaye concluded that those tea trees, as well as tea trees imported from China were one of the varieties of Chinese tea trees. In 1892, American scholar Wallis and Wilson wrote articles to articulate the reasons for tea trees to originate in China. In the 1980s, Japanese scholar Zhicunqiao and Qiaobenshi systematically compared tea trees from different countries from the perspective of cell genetics and reached the conclusion: tea trees’ birthplace is in the Yunnan plateau of China.