Anxi, Fujian Province
Geography and Population
Anxi is a county nestled within the hills of Fujian province on the Southeastern edge of mainland China, almost directly across from Taiwan. The nearest city is Quanzhou, which lies about 65 kilometres to the east. Anxi is home to about one million people, with a large number of them, including Gao Su Yi, being involved in some fashion with the production of the region’s world famous Tieguanyin tea. Within the county, there are 13 individual towns and 11 townships, many of which are tucked into the mountainsides or situated on the banks of one of Anxi’s many rivers and brooks. Most of the population is Han Chinese; however there are a scarce few that are Min-speaking Fujianese. Tieguanyin is a premium variety of Chinese oolong tea, and its name literally means “Iron Goddess of Mercy.”
Anxi County is considered to have subtropical monsoon weather. The region itself provides the ideal conditions for growing, with average annual temperatures of 12-17° C, about 1.8 metres of rainfall per year, and usually having 95% of the year be frost-free. The landscape of Fujian and Anxi is mostly mountainous, and the province has been described traditionally as “eight parts mountain, one part water, and one part farmland.” The county’s official elevation is 1171 metres, but has mountain peaks that reach up to 2000 metres. The area has lush vegetation, and is very green for a majority of the year.
Tea and Other Business
The majority of the tea production system is composed of individual tea gardens being cultivated by single farmers or families, much like Gao’s. In 2010, there were about 20,000 hectares of tea planted in Anxi, resulting in the growth of over 70,000 tonnes of tea. The tea can be harvested at three different periods throughout the year: spring, summer, and autumn. Although farmland in Anxi is limited, there is some production of rice, supplemented by sweet potatoes, wheat, and barely. The province of Fujian as a whole is one of the more affluent in China, with many industries spanning clothing and sports manufacturing, along with hosting many foreign firms’ operations.