The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
The Teas of China
China has been growing and producing tea for over 5000 years, putting them
far and above the rest of the world in quantity, knowledge, and history.  Much
of the early cultivation of tea in China was done by small farms and plantations,
many tended by Buddhist monks, on and around the land where their temples
and monasteries were located, high on the mountain tops.
The Chinese have always
held the belief that famous teas come from
high in the mountains, and indeed, many of
the finest and best known teas have often
come from these mountain plantations.

Today, China produces about 20% of the
world tea exports.  A dizzying variety of teas
are grown and produced in sixteen different
regions of China.  There's said to be over
8,000 different classifica- tions, most being
for
green tea alone, with a few black and
oolong teas included.

Of course not all the teas produced in China
are available as exports.  In fact just a small
percentage are exported each year.  But
with the ever growing popularity, and appreciation of the excellent quality and fascinating history
surrounding them, more and more teas are becoming available worldwide than ever before, as
the demand for China's teas rapidly increases.

The growing/plucking season in China runs from March to late Sep-
tember, with the best teas made from leaf buds and delicate new
leaves gathered in early spring from the high mountain areas.

Many of China's finest teas are still made by hand, and the skills
needed for their manufacture have been passed down through the
generations, one to the other.

All
six main tea types are produced in China - black tea, green tea, white tea, yellow, oolong, and
pu-erh, as well as a variety of
specialty and gourmet teas, blended, and flavored teas.  China's
rich history and unique processing methods
turn out some of the world's most exquisite
teas.

Indeed, China has compiled a list of some of
their most popular, famous teas, appropriately
called "Ten Most Famous Teas."  Six are green
teas, one
white tea, two are oolongs, and one
black tea.

Among the
green teas you'll find, of course,
the famous Longjing or Dragonwell tea, one of
China's most popular and best known green
teas. You'll also find Bi Lo Chun or Green Snail
Spring, with its tightly woven spirals, and the
           legendary Huang Mao Feng, from Anhui
           Province, grown around Huangshan,
           one of China's most celebrated mountains.

           Also from
Anhui Province comes Liuan Gaupian or Melon Slice,
           a popular tea in China, but hard to find outside until recent
           years, where it can now be found in specialty tea stores, on-
           line, and by mail order.

           The last two green teas on the list - Xinyang Maojian from
           Henan Province and Dujun Maojian from Guizhou Province,
           are difficult to find in China, much less outside the country.

           Completing the list of China's Ten Most Famous Teas is the single
white tea, Junshan
           Yinzhen, and the only black tea,
Keemun.  And finally, two oolongs-Anxi Ti Kuan Yin, and
           Wu-I Yencha round out the ten teas.

           Not to be confused with the "Ten Most Famous Teas" list, is another listing, this one of
           China's Imperial Tribute Teas, chosen by the emperors of China's last four dynasties:
                                                              
Tang, Song, Ming, and Qing.  These teas were chosen
                                                              by the emperor, each with his own personal favorites,
                                                              and delivered as a tax payment owed to the throne.

                                                              A few teas overlap on both lists--some of the Ten Most
                                                              Famous Teas are among the Imperial Tribute Teas, and
                                                              vice-versa, some of the Imperial Tribute Teas are found
                                                              on the Ten Most Famous Teas list as well.
 Enjoy.
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