Ankang City is located in the southeastern part of Shaanxi Province and in the ecological and climatic transition zone between north and south. It is the north to southern China and the south to the northern part of the country. It has the Qinling Mountain on its north, the Daba Mountains on its south and the Han River running through it from west to east. The water conservation area of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project (the middle route) also lies in Ankang. Thanks to the good water quality, Ankang produces fine tea, which in return makes the city’s water beautiful.

As the largest natural selenium-rich area in China, Ankang is known as “the world’s selenium source, China’s selenium valley”, and rated by experts as a “quality, eco-friendly and safe” selenium-rich area. Ankang has a number of ecological and geographical advantages, providing an ideal environment for growing tea. Compared to other places at the same latitude, Ankang is most suitable for tea trees to grow. It is the northernmost ecological tea area in China and the best area for producing selenium-rich tea in the country.

A long history for an ecological selenium-rich tea industry
Selenium-rich tea from Ankang has a long history. According to the first volume of The Chronicle of Huayang (an ancient chronicle that records local history, geography and characters of southwestern China), Ankang began to grow tea more than 3,000 years ago. The Classic of Tea by tea master Lu Yu from the Tang Dynasty recorded that “tea is produced in the valleys of the counties of Jinzhou and Ankang”. Offered as premium tributes to the Qing Dynasty imperial palace, “Ziyang Maojian”, a type of green tea from Ziyang County of Ankang, was one of the country’s top ten teas during that period. Antiquities and tea experts determine that the “world’s earliest tea leaves” unearthed from the mausoleum of Emperor Jing of the Western Han Dynasty were from Ankang. The tea leaves can be traced back to 2,150 years ago.

The Tea Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences organised the country’s best experts to form a team. After nearly three years of scientific and technological research, restoration and innovation, the team has developed a new type of tea — Ankang’s Qin and Han ancient tea. The tea has a long history, a profound culture, a unique flavour and a rich content of selenium. Top experts in the national tea industry unanimously agree that the tea has “a golden and silver colour, and a mellow and sweet taste”. It is praised by tea master Chen Zongmao as a “Silk Road treasure”.
Superior products for a healthy selenium-rich tea industry
Selenium is an essential trace element for the human body, as it helps to keep the heart, brain, liver and kidney healthy, as well as to boost the immune system. It is said that selenium is “a tinder of life, an anti-cancer agent, a guardian of the heart and a natural antidote”. Ankang is blessed with a natural environment that is uniquely rich in selenium, as such the tea grown there is naturally abundant in selenium. The organic combination of tea and selenium has made Ankang’s tea leaves hefty and sturdy in appearance, emerald green in colour, strong in a chestnut aroma, mellow and sweet in taste, and ecological, selenium-rich and healthy in character. A study by Yunnan University found that Ankang’s selenium-rich green tea is high in theanine and low in polyphenols, which effectively reduces excessive harm to the stomach. Meanwhile, the city’s selenium-rich black tea is high in gamma aminobutyric acid, which could help solve sleep disorders with long-term consumption.

Devoted to building a selenium industry that makes Ankang prosperous and its people affluent
The tea industry is a traditional advantageous industry in Ankang. In recent years, Ankang has recognised its selenium-rich tea industry as a key industry in making the city prosperous and its people affluent. Through maintaining its strategic focus and being persistent, Ankang’s tea industry is growing, with quality and efficiency improved, brands and markets matured, and farmers’ income significantly increased.

In 2022, 10 counties and districts and 78 towns in Ankang are developing their tea industry. The total area of tea plantations is 1.11 million mu, which produce an output of 50,000 tons of tea. The entire tea industry chain employs more than 200,000 people. Ninety-four per cent of Shaanxi Province’s tea exports come from Ankang, making it the leader in the province’s tea industry. The comprehensive output value of the city’s tea industry reaches RMB28bn. The counties of Ziyang and Pingli ranked 35th and 79th, respectively, on the list of “Top 100 Counties with a Competitive Tea Industry in 2021”.
A blooming selenium-rich tea industry that is well-known at home and abroad
In 1989, an expert committee, led by renowned national nutritionist Yu Ruomu with 12 other experts in the fields of tea, nutrition and medicine, completed an authentication on Ankang’s selenium-rich tea to make it the world’s first certified selenium-rich tea. The great proletarian revolutionary Xi Zhongxun once wrote an inscription, “Good for Health, Famous in China”, for Ankang’s selenium-rich tea. Meanwhile, Yu Ruomu also wrote three inscriptions for it.

In recent years, Ankang has been pushing its tea industry to develop in a quality and efficient manner with a focus on building the “Ankang’s Selenium-rich Tea” brand. “Ankang’s Selenium-rich Tea” is the only Shaanxi tea public brand among the top 100 regional public brands of Chinese agricultural products. With a brand value of RMB3.96bn, “Ankang’s Selenium-rich Tea” ranked 20th on the list of China’s most valuable public brands (tea category) in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and it was the most valuable tea public brand in Shaanxi. Over the years, “Ankang’s Selenium-rich Tea” has won more than 50 awards, including the Gold Award of the Treasure Ship Award at the Expo 2020 Dubai, and a number of awards at the Asia-Pacific Tea Competition and the Tea Cup Award.