The Anhui province of China is located in Eastern China, but does not border the sea. Roughly the size of North Carolina, it spans across two large watersheds, the Huai He and Yangtz rivers. Anhui is best known for its rich topography and natural resources. It comes as no surprise that the most drawn and photographed mountain in China, Huangshan, resides in Anhui. Huangshan mountain is also home to many of the wonderful teas that come from Anhui, including Huang Shan Mao Feng and Keemun. Anhui province teas are only a small reflection of this geographically diverse region.
History and People of Anhui
The Anhui province was not formally created until 1666 CE by the Qing Dynasty, which makes Anhui a rather young province in comparison to others. This may be due to the fact that Anhui is located in a transition zone between northern and southern China, so the land changed hands multiple times during wars between tribes. The terrain ranging from highland valleys, through mountainous terrain down to the deltas of its major rivers, makes for tough navigating, so its population is not as diverse as would be expected. Anhui is home to 59 million people (more people than the two most populated US states, California and Texas, combined). The vast majority of the population is Hui with the largest minority groups being the She and Hui.
The people of Anhui have influenced Chinese culture for centuries. Huiju opera was created in southern Anhui and is one of the most popular operas across China, often noted as the predecessor to the Beijing Opera. The highest quality materials for Chinese calligraphy also come from Anhui, including ink, paper and inkstones. Last, but not least, Anhui cuisine, consisting of wild game or fish with local herbs and prepared with minimal fuss is considered one of the eight staples of Chinese cuisine and of course their teas.
Anhui Province and Tea
Huangshan Mountain and its surrounding region was named an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1990. This is very important as it will preserve the tea plants and fields in the surrounding region. In this region all six types of tea are produced but the highest quality teas from Anhui are really black, green, and yellow teas. The rich red clay and higher elevations around the mountain make perfect terroir for tea. Tea has been grown in the province for thousands of years and there are many tribute teas made in Anhui that never make it into western markets due to the high demand within China. The first plucking of tea that make Huang Shan Mao Feng goes for top dollar as well as their famous tea, Huo Shan Huang Ya, which was originally made as a tribute to Qing Dynasty. Keemun makes a fabulous black tea that was once part of the recipe for English Breakfast or common on its own in early American colonies, before the British planted tea bushes in India.
Ahui province is worth your time to learn about and if you are adventurous, take a trip and enjoy this beautiful area along with its tea.