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Provincial profiles of tea in China: Fujian and Hunan provinces.

Fujian: The south-east coastal province of Fujian enjoys a warm and moist climate, and it has red-yellow soils on hills and mountains suitable for growing teas. Tea was first planted here in the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), and by the time of the Song dynasty (960-1279) AD), Fujian was a major tea-growing district. In the Ming dynasty (1368-1662 AD), over one half of China's tea was grown in the province. During the Qing dynasty (1662-1911), the tea industry was thriving, and the capital city of Fuzhou was one of the three large national tea markets as well as being the largest producer of scented tea in the country. In 1936, tea area totaled 36,000 ha and output had reached 12,250 tons, a figure not surpassed until 1972. By 1949, output had fallen to only 3,900 tons.

From 1979 to 1989, the area of tea fields in Fujian increased by an annual average of 1.7%, above the national average of 0.1%. This brought the area up from 100,000 ha to 118,500 ha, and has made Fujian the third biggest planter of tea in China. Output increased by an average of 8.9% over the same period, compared to the national average of 6.4%, doubling production from 22,800 tons to 55,000 tons.

Fujian thus has become the fourth largest producer of tea in China after Zhejiang, Hunan and Sichuan provinces. Yields rose by an annual average of 7.1% above the national average of 6.3%, but were still below the national average. In 1989, total yields for China averaged 502 kg/ha while Fujian's total yields were only 467 kg/ha. Plucked yields were 519 kg/ha, which were still well below the national yield average of 651 kg/ha.

Thus, while Fujian's industry has performed creditably during the period of China's economic reforms, it still lags behind national yield averages which are in themselves very low by Chinese historical and international standards.

There are three main tea-growing districts in Fujian, in the east, south and north of the province. Tea in East Fujian is grown in 13 counties, and, in 1982, these comprised 35% of the area and produced 43% of the output of the province. Black tea is the main variety produced. South Fujian comrpised of 17 counties and is a Oolong (Wulong) tea area, which in 1982, represented 22 and 23%, respectively of the province's area and output.

The tea-growing districts of North Fujian eight counties and cities and are the oldest tea fields in the province. In 1982, they constituted 19% of the provinces area and produced 22% of its and output. It principally produces the rare white tea as well as Oolong, black and green teas.

More so than other tea-producing provinces in China, Fujian processes the full gamut of teas from unfermented green through semi-fermented Oolong to full-fermented black teas. Fujian is also China's largest Scented tea (principally Jasmine) producing province. Thus, it has the capacity to adapt to a changing market environment, and satisty both domestic and export markets.

In the early 1950's 70 to 80% of the tea produced in the province was Black and exported to Eastern Europe. In the 60's the principal variety changed from Black to Green and Scented teas for the domestic market, and Wulong and Jasmine teas for export to overseas Chinese communities. By this time, 70 to 80% of tea output was Green and Oolong. In the 70's, there was a big increase in the demand for Wulong exports so, by the late 70's 50% of output was Green, White and Black, and the other 50% was Oolong.

Oolong tea in cans and tetra-paks has made great inroads in the Japanese market, where it has surpassed Black tea in popularity to stand second behind Green tea. Taiwan also exports Oolong tea to Japan, but in recent years China, with its lower cost structure and price, has captured the bulk of the market.

Hunan Province: Hunan province in central-south China was traditionally he highest tea-producing province in China, and has a 2,000 year history of growing tea. Its highest pre-1949 output reached 80,000 tons, a figure it surpassed only in 1988. by 1949, output had fallen to only 9,750 tons on an area of 32,000 ha. From 1949 until 1969, Hunan retained its status as the number one producing province, but lost this position in that year to Zhejiang. Hunan has never recovered its preeminence and, by 1980, its tea field area was also exceeded by Zhejiang after that province's enormous planning campaign in the decade from the mid-60's to the mid-70's.

Statistical data on Hunan's tea industry is sparse, which makes historical analysis difficult. What is clear is that, in the 80's provincial area declined by almost 50% from 167,000 ha in 1981 to 96,000 ha in 1990. Hunan was the only major tea-producing province to experience a decline in area over the period 1979 to 1989. Over the same period, output increased by over 30% from 57,300 tons to 80,000 tons, with yields consequently rising rapidly from 600 kg/ha to 883 kg/ha in 1989.

The average annual increased in output between 1979 and 1989 was only 3.3%, only half the national average of over 6%. However, average yields in Hunan rose by 83.3% over the same period, two points above the national average of 6.3%. Thus, in 1989, total yields in Hunan were 783 kg/ha, well above the national average of 502 kg/ha, while plucked yields were 883 kg/ha, compared to the national average of 651 kg/ha.

Hunan produces, in decreasing order of volumes, black, green and compressed tea, the latter procured by state mandatory plans and allocated to minority nationalities living in China's border regions. In fact, Hunan is by far the major producer of compressed tea, in 198 and 1989 supplying about two-thirds of the national output of this variety. Compressed tea currently makes up about 15% of Hunan's ea output.

In 1983, the output value of tea in Hunan contributed 9.3% to the value of cash crops in the province,which placed tea third after cotton and oil crops. Its share of provincial agricultural output value was a mere 1.2%. In 1983, Black tea comprised 44% of provincial output and Green tea 21%. Export volumes of tea in 1982 ranked Hunan third behind Zhejiang and Anhui and, in terms of total provincial exports, tea was second in value after pigs.

All counties in Hunan grow tea, but production s concentrated in 27 counties linked in the center and north of the province, with output in each county of over 500 tons. Rainfall in these counties is normally over 1,300 millimeters per year. Population density is great, so there is no shortage of labor.

In 1983, the principal tea-growing areas contributed 72% of provincial total, and output stood at 85.3%; 10 counties produced between 500 and 2,500 tons, five produced between 2,500 and 5,000 tons, and three produced from 5,0000 to 7,465 tons. Linxiang county recorded the highest output of any county, followed by Anhua.

There are three principal tea-growing areas in Hunan. First, the slopes and hills of eastern Hunan, where the rainfall is high but the soil not very fertile, produce Black tea. yields are quite low. In 1983, eastern Hunan produced 6,300 tons or 10% of provincial output, with yields of only 457.5 kg/ha.

There are 11 old green, dark green (both raw materials for compressed or border tea) and green tea-producing counties on the slopes and hills in northern Hunan, where tea was first grown in the province. In 1983 this area produced 63% of provincial output off 53% of tea area, with yields of 770 kg/ha, which were then the highest in the province. The third major area in Hunan, again on low-lying mountains and hills where rainfall is 1,500 millimeters per year, produces Black tea with yields of 532 kg/ha.

In 1982, China Tea, China's national tea journal published by the Tea Research Institute of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences located in Hangzhou, carried a very interesting articles about the prospect for increased tea production in Hunan province. The author of the article surveyed high-yielding state and collective tea farms in the province to discover the reasons behind their success (for more on China's state tea farm sector, see Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, February 1990, pp. 32-38).

The yields on the farms surveyed were astouding, and further reinforece he point that Dr. Dan Etherington and I have been streessing over recent years about the potential for yields to be raised in China. Remember that, in 1989, plucked yields in China averaged only 651 kg/ha. In 1981, on eight farms with a total area of over 13 ha, yield on mature fields ranged from 1,811 kg/ha to 2,344 kg/ha. In experimental fields run by state and collective farms, as well as by the provincial Tea Research Institute, yields reached to over 5,000 kg/ha.

The findings of the survey conducted in Hunan were unremarkable in themselves but, from the perspective of almost a decade later, are very illuminating in terms of what has transpired in the industry since that time. The survey highlighted the importance of the heavy application organic fertilizers to the establishment of high-yielding fields. By raising pigs, cattle and goats,building compost pits, and growing green fertilizer crops, the growing of tea could become integrated with forestry and animal husbandry.

Naturally, the accumulation and utilization of fertilizers was closely linked to the scale of operations. And the article pointed to the benefits of concentrated tea farming, which the collective sector then in existence was able to support. Since that time, of course, the collective tea farm has been dissolved and replaced in most production districts of China by the household-based mini-farm where the files are contracted from the collective group for up to 15 years.

While this system has promoted individual labor incentives, it has also led to the plundering of bushes in pursuit of short-term profits and the neglect of improved cultivation methods to raise yields. The article emphasized the importance of filed management techniques, particularly intensive farming in the pursuit of quality before quantity, and quoted an old saying to his effect: "Expanding of foot is not as good as filling in an inch".

A decade after the publication of this article, the lessons contained therein have not been learned by the Chinese industry. Optimistic projection continue to be published regarding future output levels, while the basic reasons for the past growth of the industry have been conveniently overlooked or deliberately ignored. Dr. Etherington hopes to clarify this situation with the publication this year of our book on the political economy of the past 40 years of the Chinese tea industry.

China Tushu Guangdong Tea

Import and Export


Guangdong Tea Import and Export Corporation was established in 1952. Solid in financial strength, affluent in product resources, and possessing a widespread commercial network, the corporation has consistently observed the principle of equality, mutual benefit, abiding by contracts and keeping good faith, and to win good reputation by high quality of its products.

Our import-and-export trade has been daily expanding, and our export turnover of tea has been on the lead of the line of our national tea trade.

Our business range includes Black Tea, Green Tea, Scented Tea, Oolong Tea, White Tea, Pu-Erh Tea, Beeng Cha, Tou Cha, Kooloo Tea, Lichee Black Tea, Rose Congou, The Well-Known Tea,"Changbai Mt." Ginseng Tea, and various kinds of other Beverages as well as Packet Teas and Teabags. All these have their own characteristics, and since their sale, they have been widely welcomed by the international importers and endusers as well as consumers.

The "Golden Sail Brand" Yingteh Black Tea Teabags and the "Tripod Brand" Well-Known Tea were both awarded a Golden Laurel Prize by the International Food and Tourism Association of Paris, France in 1986.

Also the "Golden Sail Brand" Finest Tea of China (Gift Tea) has won a gold medal awarded by the 26th World Selection l987 of Canned Foods and Other Food Products held in Brussels, Belgium.

Our corporation also deals in Coffee, Cocoa, and their manufactured products, and the various hygienic products ingrediented with tea, coffee, or cocoa, etc..

Our corporation also conducts business relating to importing and exporting purchasing, allocating, processing, storaging, transporting and domestic wholesaling and retailing of the complete chain of the serial products of tea, coffee, and cocoa.

Our corporation also works on processing with supplied materials, on entrepot trade, barter trade, compensation trade, sales on consignment, on calling for

and participating in tenders, and on forward-contract dealings on the various kinds of tea, coffee/coffee products, cocoa/ cocoa products, and other supplied materials mainly those of beverages.

We warmly welcome people from all walks of life to make business discussions with us.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Forster, Keith
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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