Xihu, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province

Geography and Population

Xihu, or West Lake, is a freshwater lake in eastern China. It is considered to be a suburb of Hangzhou, which is the capital of Zhejiang province. The city is the largest in the province and the fourth-largest nationally, with about 8.7 million people. The city sits right on the edge of the bay of its namesake, and the East China Sea. The lake area lies to the southwest of the city centre, and the city itself is about 180 kilometres southwest of Shanghai. Hangzhou has been one of the most distinguished and thriving cities of China for much of the last 1,000 years, due in part to its beautiful natural scenery. West Lake is the region’s most popular attraction. The area surrounding the lake is lush and the land is very excellent for all types of agriculture, including the farming of Xihu Longjing tea, a premium variety of green tea.

Climate

The climate of the region is considered to be humid subtropical and has four distinct seasons, characterised by long, hot, and humid summers and chilly, cloudy, and drier winters. The average temperature is about 16° C, but range from 4°C in January to 28° in June. The city receives about 1.45 metres of rainfall each year and is affected by monsoon rains in June. The lake is surrounded on three sides by mountains, and it is in those mountains where most of the tea growing takes place. Because the city is right on the sea, its elevation is only about 18 metres; however the West Lake area has a peak elevation of 355 metres.

Tea from Xihu

Xihu’s tea growing area is now protected by the government, and only the leaves picked within its 168 square kilometres are considered to be genuine Xihu Longjing tea. There are four local villages in the area, and many of those who call them home are involved in the growth and production of the Xihu Longjing, also known as West Lake Dragonwell tea.

Economy of Xihu

Hangzhou is renowned for its historic relics and natural beauty, which makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in China. With West Lake as its most popular attraction, tourism is a large part of the city’s economy. The economy as a whole has more than tripled since 2001, and continues to grow today. The city has worked to develop many new industries including medical, electronics, telecommunication, and chemical.