History of black tea in China

Published: Tuesday 06 March, 2018

China is the birthplace of black tea, which in China is called, perhaps more appropriately, hong cha – red tea – after its the red colored tea it usually produces.  It's history in China can be traced back to the late Ming Dynasty, around the year 1590, when the first black tea – Lapsang Souchong – was produced in the area around Wuyi Mountain in Fujian province.  This high mountainous area was called Lapsang and the small leaf tea trees Souchong – hence the name.  Today China's best and most well known black teas include Fujian Lapsang Souchong, Fujian Minhong, Anhui Keemun, Yunnan Dianhong, Guangdong Yingteh and Sichuan Mabian Gongfu black teas.

Keemun black tea is arguably China's most famous black tea, and was first made in 1875 in Qimen county by Hu Yuanlong who journeyed to Fujian to learn tea making.  When he returned to Qimen he began locally producing his own tea, that soon became known as Keemun black tea, and went on to become one of the most sort after black teas in China.