Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2018, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (3): 275-290.doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1472-2

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatio-temporal variation and the driving forces of tea production in China over the last 30 years

Zhi XIAO1,2,*(), Xianjin HUANG1(), Zheng ZANG1,*, Hong YANG1,3()   

  1. 1. School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. Kaili University, Kaili 556011, Guizhou, China
    3. Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AB, UK
  • Received:2017-03-28 Accepted:2017-07-05 Online:2018-03-10 Published:2018-03-10
  • Contact: Zhi XIAO,Zheng ZANG;;
  • About author:

    Author: Xiao Zhi (1974-), PhD Candidate and Associate Professor, specialized in resources geography and land use change. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Huang Xianjin (1968-), Professor, specialized in land use change. E-mail: or Yang Hong (1978-), lecturer, specialized in environmental science. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41571162;National Social Science Foundation of China, No.17ZDA061


As a daily necessity and an important cash crop in China and many other countries, tea has received increasing attention. Using production concentration index model and industry’ s barycenter theory, we analyzed the spatio-temporal distribution of tea production and barycenter movement trajectory of tea plantations and production in China between 1986 and 2015. Driving forces of the movement were also analyzed. From 1986 to 2000, tea production in China’s Mainland of grew slowly (by 210×103 t). The continuous increase in tea yield per unit area was the primary contributor (more than 60%) to the growth in tea production during this period. Since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, tea production has grown rapidly, by 1.59×106 t between 2001 and 2015. The increase in the tea plantations area is the main contributor. Over the last 30 years, the barycenters of tea production in China have moved westward from the Dongting Lake Plain to the eastern fringe of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. Guizhou, Guangxi, and Sichuan in southwestern China have gradually become regions of new concentrated tea plantations and main tea production provinces. Lower cost of land and labor in southwestern China are the main drivers of the westward movement of China’s tea industry. In addition, supportive policies and the favorable natural geographical environment contribute to the westward movement of tea industry. Our research highlights the spatio-temporal variation of China’s tea production in the last three decades. The result indicates importance to make appropriate policies to promote the development of tea industry in China.

Key words: tea industry, spatio-temporal variation, driving force, China