The purpose of this study was to investigate the diversity of cultivable phosphate solubilising (PSB) and total bacteria originated from 384 rhizospheric acidic soils samples of tea plants grown at 32 locations. Over 900 rhizoplane bacteria were randomly selected from agar-solidified trypticase soy broth, and identified using fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles. Based on FAME profiles, 53 bacterial genera were identified with a similarity index > 0.3, but 60.3% of the identified isolates belonged to five genera: Bacillus (34.6%), Pseudomonas (8.9%), Stenotrophomonas (6.1%), Paenibacillus (5.9%) and Arthrobacter (4.8%). The bacilli group comprised many different species, with the most abundant being B. cereus, B. megaterium and B. sphaericus. The main identified Pseudomonads included P. fluorescens, P. putida, and P. alcaligenes. About 30.4% of the bacterial isolates could not be classified to genus since their similarity indices were < 0.3 indicating no close matches. Most of the total and P-solubilizing bacteria isolated were Gram positive (61.3 and 52.3%), and Gram negative constituted only 38.7 and 47.7%. Out of the 214 PSB from a pool of 506 bacterial isolates recovered on the selective media from the rhizosphere of tea, 74 of them were characterized by carbon sources using BIOLOG(M) GN2 and GP2 plates. Bacillus, Pseudomonas, Paenibacillus and Stenotrophomonas genera were the most prominent P-solubilizing groups in the rhizosphere and soil populations analyzed. B. cereus, P. fluorescens, S. maltophilia, B. megaterium, P. putida, B. sphaericus and Paenibacillus polymyxa were the most frequent P-solubilizing species in the acidic tea rhizosohere soils. Selected Gram-positive PSB appeared to favour carbohydrates, and Gram-negative bacteria appeared to favour carboxylic acids, amino acids and carbohydrates as carbon sources. Selected phosphate solubilizing acid tolerant strains showed high variability in utilizing various carbon sources.