2023 China Tea Report: Exports

2 0 2 3 C h i n a T e a R e p o r t : E x p o r t s

This is Part 2 of an article that originally appeared in Tea & Coffee Trade Journal June 2023.




China’s tea industry weathered the storms of 2022 relatively well. The year brought sweltering heat and drought to many parts of the globe, while politics, war, and pandemic measures contributed to economic woes. By the end of the year, however, China maintained its overall production levels and made modest gains in export volume.

A further breakdown of China’s production areas and exports will paint a clearer picture of how China maintained its position as producer of nearly half the world’s teas and one-fifth of global exports.



Consistent with years past, China again ranked second in exports for 2022. Kenya led with 456,000 metric tons, or 25 percent of global tea exports from origin. China exported 375,000 metric tons, but gained 1.6 percent over 2021 export volumes while Kenya decreased 18 percent over the previous year. Sri Lanka, India, and Vietnam rounded out the top five exporting countries. Together these accounted for 78.9 percent of all exports from producing countries.

As expected, the vast majority (83.7 percent) of China’s tea exports was green tea, followed by black (8.9 percent) and wulong (5.2 percent). By China’s recording system, jasmine green tea would be considered a flower/scented tea, and therefore categorized as such instead of being counted as part of green tea exports. These flower/scented teas represented 1.7 percent of 2022 exports. Green tea exports averaged $4.44 per kg, black tea averaged $10.25/kg, and wulong tea averaged $13.36 per kg.

For the past few years, the top destinations for China’s tea exports have been Morocco, Uzbekistan, and Ghana. Morocco, stands far above the rest, taking over 75,000 mt, or 20.1% of China’s total annual exports. Morocco has long been known for its tea drinking culture (think Moroccan mint tea) and its trade in packing and re-export of tea. Moving down the list of export destinations reveals Russia (19,700 mt) as the fifth largest recipient, and the United States (13,000 mt) receiving about 3.5 percent of China’s total annual exports. In spite of political tensions with the US and Russia, China’s exports to both nations increased over 2021 levels, up 18.5 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively. Part of this may stem from the declines in exports from Sri Lanka and Kenya, but also suggests Chinese tea is somewhat resilient in relation to international political conflict.


Overall, indications point to China continuing to lead global tea production with the central and western portions of the country as driving forces. The 2023 Spring harvest revealed some lingering effects. Exports, especially of green and black teas, are expected to remain steady in relation to production. This stability helps contribute to fairly moderate increases in average export prices as well, with the most recent 10 years showing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8% in USD per kilogram.