Interesting facts

Where does my favourite tea come from?

Nowadays there is not one continent where they would not grow tea trees. In some places this valuable plant has been cultivated for centuries. However, it is interesting that the current second-rank biggest exporter is still a complete newcomer on the scene.

India is the biggest tea producer in the world producing a number of different types of tea. Teas coming from different regions of India are very diverse: there is a vast production area in Darjeeling on the slopes of the Himalayas in North-East India. This tea has a very pleasant, characteristic and unmistakable flavour which can only develop if you use soft water when preparing tea. In East India there lies Assam, the largest and most closed area for the production of tea in the world. Here tea bushes grow on a special fertile soil of felled jungle. The tea that grows in this region is full in flavour and has a strong scent.

Sri Lanka has three large production areas: Uva – the region in the East; the Dimbula region in the West and at the intersection of both regions. That is, the Nuwara Eliya mountain range at an altitude of 2000 to 2500 metres where the best and most aromatic Ceylon teas are grown.

Japan is also one of the leading countries in the world regarding tea production. Plantations of tea in Japan are different than the ones elsewhere in the world since the Japanese machine-picking of tea is different than picking tea anywhere else. All Japanese tea plantations are located in the hilly part of the country in the vicinity of rivers, streams and lakes where the climate is misty and humid, and the heat of the Sun is not so pronounced due to misty mornings. Picking of tea starts at the end of April. Most of the Japanese production is oriented towards green tea production. While most of the countries that produce tea still have a part of the production that is manual, the Japanese tea industry is totally mechanised throughout the entire process – from picking, rolling, fermenting, curing and sorting to packaging. Manual picking and production are only used for the most expensive Gyokuro and Kariganes teas.

Indonesian Java and Sumatra are two of the biggest islands where they produce tea. With respect to the volume of tea produced, this island country ranks fifth on the worldwide scale. They introduced the tea tree to Java at the beginning of the 19th century when they planted the first seedlings from Japan. However, they only started to grow tea on Sumatra in the 20th century. The teas from Sumatra have a strong flavour similar to that of the Assam teas. On the other hand, the tea from Java is more like Ceylon teas.

The British brought tea bushes to Kenya when it was still a British colony. After World War II they arranged many vast plantations around Lake Victoria which today are still owned by the British. Here they mainly produce ground tea which is predominant in British consumption. Specially selected sorts of tea from the Kenyan Highlands can always be likened to top-quality teas from Sri Lanka and Java.

Russia produces tea on plantations in subtropical regions of the Caucasus (Georgia) and almost all of it is for domestic use. A very well-known tea is the so-called Russian tea mix that is comprised of different types of middle quality teas that can also be found in our local stores in filter bags labelled “Russian tea”.

Argentina belongs to the new wave of tea producers. They began with production at the start of the 20th century and this significantly increased after 1954.

Brazil started producing tea in 1810 but the production did not fulfil greater prospects. The Brazilians are known for the production and drinking of coffee which they produce in greater amounts and with less effort while their tea production is not extensive and does not represent a significant share of world production.

Taiwan produces tea according to the Chinese methods. They mainly export green and semi-fermented oolong teas.

Did you know?

  • The finest Indian Darjeeling tea is grown at an altitude of 1000 to 2400 metres on the southern slopes of the Himalayas. The first picking or first flush of Darjeeling starts in March. The summer picking or second flush yields tea with more colour and stronger and coarser flavour. The autumn teas or autumnals are picked in October and have brown leaves, a fine aroma and less tannins.
  • Since the start of mass production in Sri Lanka and India, there is no continent on the planet that would not have at least some taste of tea production.
  • Tea was brought to Sri Lanka only some 100 years ago. Before this Sri Lanka was one of the biggest coffee producers in the world just trailing Brazil, yet coffee plantations were laid to waste because of the rats that first nibbled the leaves and flowers and later whole bushes thus practically destroying all of the industry.
  • In Europe flavouring of teas became popular in the 19th century. The best known flavoured tea is Earl Grey with the typical bergamot flavour. Other additions are used in the preparation of these teas which are mostly smoked and spiced with an addition of unmistakable flavour and taste.
  • The flavoured green teas are prepared from the same sorts of tea as their equivalent non-flavoured counterparts. The only difference is that they add different types of essential oils and flavours. One of the classic flavoured green teas is the Jasmine green tea.
  • An experienced and deft picker can gather a minimum of 31kg of tea per day. This volume is sufficient for 14,000 cups.