Chinese tea encompasses hundreds of different flavours and styles of tea, all grown and produced in China. A distinct culture of brewing and drinking Chinese tea, called gong fu cha has existed for thousands of years, and is still practiced widely today as a simple gesture of welcome for friends, or as an honoured ceremony for guests and business associates.
All types of Chinese tea (in fact, all types of tea in the world) come from the same species of plant - camellia sinesis. What defines a Chinese tea is simply where it is grown, and the methods used to process it.
There are actually hundreds of varieties of Chinese tea, but they are often classified into five main varieties - green, red, oolong, puer and white. The differences between them are given by the tea farm location, type of soil, growing conditions, and minute differences in the processing methods used.
Chinese teas are generally thought of as any tea from mainland China or Taiwan, although some teas are also being grown in the USA and other countries using traditional Chinese methods.. The tea production methods are centuries old, and until relatively recently were carefully guarded secrets. Chinese tea production follows a time-honoured routine of plucking, drying, baking and forming the tea leaves.