Guest Post: Fujian Province – The Mecca of Chinese Tea

Today I’m featuring a guest post written by my friend Derek Chew of Peony Tea Shop. He’s an excellent writer and very knowledgeable.

Fujian Province- The Mecca of
Chinese Tea

To single out any tea producing
province for special mention is tricky; after all there are 18 main
tea producing provinces in China.You could jointly make a case for
Yunnan-Sichuan-Chongqing since there is quite a bit of historical and
scientific evidence to suggest that these provinces were the original
birth place of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Making the case of
volume would be tricky, since Fujian and Zhejiang frequently jostle
for pole position. In terms of size of tea fields, it would be Yunnan
(at least at point of writing).
Making the case for Fujian (not that
there is any prize to be won) I would argue from 2 aspects:
  1. Birthplace of 3 categories of Tea
  2. Global Influence
Birthplace of 3 categories of tea

Of the 6 basic categories of tea-
green, white, yellow, oolong, black and dark (also known as
post-fermented) tea- 3 of them are believed to have originated from
Fujian province.

Most researchers believe the first
black tea originated from Tong Mu Guan in Wuyishan, Fujian which is
what is often known in the western world as Lapsang Souchong.
Wuyishan or Anxi- both located in Fujian- are often held up to be the
originator of oolong or wulong tea. Moving eastward, we have Fuding
which is the birthplace of the white tea.

With 3 out of the 6 basic categories of
tea originating in Fujian, it is hard to argue against its importance
towards the tea industry. In fact, even today, white tea and oolong
tea are predominantly produced in Fujian province.

Depending on where you stand on scented
tea- Fuzhou, Fujian produces the bulk of top grade jasmine tea in
China as well. Hence, in terms of diversity, no other province comes
close to Fujian.
Global Influence

How influential is Fujian on the global
tea landscape? For starters the word ‘tea’ originated from the
Fujian dialect pronunciation of the Chinese word 茶
(cha), which of course means tea. Xiamen (or Amoy as it was
known then) was also one of the early export ports of tea way back in
the 17th and 18th century.

Closer to today- the 20th
century to be exact- Chinese of Fujian descent were among the first
waves of Chinese immigrants, settling down in South East Asia as the
Sino-Japanese and Chinese civil wars devastated the nation.

Among the many influences the migrant
Chinese community- especially the Fujian and Guangdong people- had on
their new countries was the love for tea, particularly tea popular in
those 2 provinces. Consequentially, Fujian (and Guangdong) teas-
noticeably Tieguanyin, Shuixian and Jasmine Tea- quickly became
staples of Chinese tea in overseas communities.

Of course when you brew a pot of
Tieguanyin, Wuyi Yancha, Huang Jin Gui, Silver Needles, Jasmine Tea
or so many of the wonderful varieties of Fujian tea, you might be
inspired to make a case on its gastronomic merits, I know I would.
Author bio:
Derek Chew has never met
a well-made oolong
tea he didn’t adore and counts Wuyi Yancha, Tieguanyin and
Phoenix Dancong among his favorites teas.
Disclaimer: Derek Chew owns and
operates Peony Tea S.- an online
tea shop selling oolong tea, green tea among other categories of
Chinese tea but his ancestors came from Guangdong province, not