Where Tea Comes From
There was a time when tea was simple: it all came from China. Not any more: Tetley works with thousands of tea estates from all over the world.
Most of our teas come from the following regions
Where: In the North East of Argentina, in the warmer Misiones province. The brew: the red soils of Misiones produce teas with a mild taste and clear liquor. They’re perfect for the American market’s thirst for iced tea.
Where: The high altitude areas both east and west of the Great Rift Valley, Kenya. How much: Kenya is the world’s third largest tea producer, after China and India. A lot of its thick and bright teas are sold at auction in the port of Mombasa on the Indian Ocean. The brews: Kenya keeps many markets happy. In Britain we love their medium types with a deep colour. In Pakistan they go for black leaf tea while Egypt loves fast-infusing teas.
Where: Malawi, Central Africa, where the first gardens were established by the British in the late 19th Century. The oldest tea industry in Africa, it was later joined by Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. How much: Malawi produces 45 million kilos of tea, putting it just outside the top 10 largest producers. Much of its tea is sold through a weekly auction in Limbe in the south.
The brews: The country’s teas are bright with an interesting colour, and are big in the UK and South Africa.
Where: The Cedarberg region of the Western Cape, South Africa, home of Redbush (or ‘Rooibos’ in Afrikaans). This wild shrub is only found here. It has leaves like needles, and it has been processed and fermented like tea since the early 1900s. The brew: Although it has no caffeine, Redbush makes a red brew that’s similar to black tea. It also lends itself to carrying flavours.
Where: North Eastern India, on the steamy alluvial plains bordering the mighty Bhramaputra river.
When: Most Assam tea is made between July and September, with the region producing around 700 million kilos a year.
The brew: Assam is malty and refreshing, with the body to give a refreshing zing.
Where: Southern India’s main tea growing regions are Kerala and Tamil Nadu. These provinces produce more tea than the whole of Argentina and Indonesia combined.
The brew: The leading South Indian tea is Nilgiri. It’s grown high up and has a distinctive aroma and flavour. It’s expensive and loved by the Russian market.
Where: Darjeeling is in the foothills of the Himalayas in India. The British established the first tea estates there in the 1850s.
When: Darjeeling is picked during 4 ‘flushes’ or seasons: Spring, (late February Mid- April), Summer (May - June), Monsoon (July - September) and Autumn flush (October - November). It is ‘high-grown’ at over 2000m.
The brew: Darjeeling is known as ‘the Champagne of Teas’, and is best with just a splash of milk. Each flush is different: Spring is a light tea, while later crops give a stronger more coppery brew.
Where: Sri Lanka, although its teas keep the country’s former name of ‘Ceylon’. It is the world’s fourth largest tea producer. Types: Ceylon’s teas are divided by altitude (low, medium and high-grown) and two quality seasons named after regions: the Uva season from July to September and the Dimbulla season from December to February.
The brews: Ceylon teas are light, bright and citrusy. The different altitudes and regions produce a rich variety. Uva teas are light but with a strong aroma. Dimbulla teas are also light but with a mellow fragrance of flowers.
Where: Most of the world’s Oolong tea is grown in Taiwan, with the best fetching several hundred dollars a kilo. What: Oolong is part-oxidised tea. Different levels of fermentation give it different characteristics.
The brews: Champagne Oolong has a clean, peachy character. Then there’s the floral Jade Oolong. And there’s Pouchong which is also floral but more open-leafed than Jade.
Where: Japan plucks tea from more than 50,000 hectares of land.
What: The country has a proud heritage of producing excellent green teas.
Where: China has nearly 1.5m hectares of land dedicated to tea. It is the world’s largest producer of tea.
What: As well as black teas, China is famous for Green, Oolong, White, Flavoured and Compressed teas.
Where: Indonesia’s main tea growing regions are Java and Sumatra. How much: With 139 million kilos produced, Indonesia is one of the world’s largest tea producers.
The brew: These are mellow, smooth teas which are perfect for blending. They’re also ideal to carry flavours.
Papua New Guinea
Where: New Guinea lies to the north of Australia, where the tea industry occupies the eastern half of the island. Most of its 7,500 tonnes of tea is exported to Australia, Europe and the USA.
The brew: the island’s rich soil and good climate produce bright and coloury teas.