There are wines and coffees that have become famous for the region they were grown in. Soil, amount of rainfall, and even distance from the equator can all have a definite influence on the taste of the drink. Tea is as strongly influenced by the same factors. Not only the harvesting time, but the processing and regional influences all combine to create more varieties of tea than most people are aware of.
Teas from the Fujian provence of southern China are often considered the standard measure for quality. This is due to the long history of Oolong Tea production in this area. Fujian is thought to be the place in which tea was first cultivated in China. The region is not only good for tea, but for many other crops. The combination of tea with flowers and oils from these other products creates many types of teas that are famous around the world. Jasmine tea from Fujian is well known for a light, delightful fragrance that lasts well after the tea is gone.
Another tea from Fujian is Bai Hao Yinzhen. This is a delicate white tea and production is in very small amounts. Picked only between the middle of March and first week of April, the work is done only by hand. The reason is that only undamaged and unopened tea buds from the top of the plant are harvested. This creates a tea that is pale yellow, slightly sweet and highly prized. The taste is often so delicate that many people might be disappointed, but the real secret is that the amount of antioxidants in this tea is amongst the highest. As such, this tea is considered healthier than almost any other.
Outside of China, there are multiple places that have become extremely well known and popular. The island of Java in Indonesia has deep layers of volcanic soil and regular rainfall. These combine to create teas that are rich in flavor without being overly bitter. This is one of the sources for the various teas that most people have regularly - the English and Irish breakfast teas are from either here or another area known for the same growing environment. The Indian state of Assam is the home of Orange Pekoe tea, which in recent years has become one of the most popular hot teas sold in western countries.
While well known, therefore famous, there are areas of the world where tea is planted and harvested primarily for large commercial consumption. India and Kenya are two places where there are huge plantations owned and operated by any number of large corporations. These farms have machine harvested tea plants that also get treated by chemical fertilizers and insecticides. While marketed under the same names as traditionally grown teas, these are made for mass consumption. The flavors are often enhanced by other ingredients and additives.
In addition, the mechanical harvesting can include more stems than any tea should. It also results in leaves and buds that are bruised, meaning that the leaves have already started to oxidize before drying. This can create unbalanced bitterness unless blended with teas that have not started to react. While mass produced tea was once a great way to introduce people to the second most popular beverage in the world (after ordinary water), this fame comes at the expense of true flavor and the multiple health benefits of proper teas.