Roll over the map for our tea origins
Where we source our tea
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Rwanda

Tea was first planted in Rwanda in the 1920s, but it proved unsuccessful and it was not until the late 1950s tea was re-introduced successfully into the Mulindi valley. During the 1960s, tea growing expanded and, due to the demand for CTC teas for teabags, the industry moved heavily onto this method of production. 

Kenya

Kenya is the largest producer of tea on the African continent and the 4th largest tea producer in the World after China, India, and Sri Lanka.The major tea growing areas are in the Kenyan Highlands, West of the Rift Valley, Nandi and in the regions of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares. 

China

The tea-growing areas of China are roughly split up into 4 regions. The South West region includes Yunnan and Guizhou, whereas the South East region includes Guangdong, Fujian, and Guangxi. The Jiangnan area South of the Yangtze River and includes Zhejiang, Hunan, and Jiangxi. And finally, there's the region North of the Yangtze, Jiangbei area, which includes Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu.

Taiwan

Taiwan’s subtropical climate in the North and the warmer tropical climate in the South along with the warmer months bringing cool misty mornings, sunny days and plentiful rainfall mean Taiwan has the perfect tea growing climate. Tea is grown in most areas of Taiwan except for the low-lying coastal regions encircling the island.

India

There are several tea growing regions in India; the most famous being Darjeeling, Assam, and the Nilgiris. Each area produces teas with very distinct flavours, which are determined by the altitude, terrain, climate, tea making process, and the variety of camellia sinensis used.

Japan

In 1738, Seon Nagatani devised a method of steaming the tea before rolling and drying the leaves which produced a much brighter, fresher tasting tea with sweeter notes and of a much higher quality. This type of tea soon proved hugely popular and is the method still used today to produce the typical steamed Japanese teas.

United Kingdom

Tea has only been grown in Britain for the last 20 years, but the idea had actually been explored 60 years earlier. During the Second World War, Winston Churchill had discussed the idea of growing tea as part of the Dig for Victory Campaign as a way of keeping British morale up and ensuring a steady supply of tea. However, due to the length of time a tea bush takes to mature (at least 4 years), the idea was dismissed.

The first tea was produced in the UK on the Tregothnan Estate in 2005.Through careful tending and experimentation, the number of tea bushes has now increased and, throughout the growing season, tea is plucked and produced. The Estate produces and blends several types of tea including an Afternoon Tea and a green tea. Tea growing in Great Britain is still very much in its infancy, but attempts to grow tea commercially are now taking place in Devon, Wales, Northern Ireland, and several gardens in Scotland.

Sri Lanka

The beautiful tear drop shaped island of Sri Lanka sits in the perfect geographical location for growing tea being close to the equator and nestled off the South East tip of India.

A comparative newcomer in the tea growing world coffee was the staple crop in the country up until the early 1870’s when the estates were devastated by coffee leaf rust and an alternative crop had to be found.

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Discover Rwanda

Tea was first planted in Rwanda in the 1920s, but it proved unsuccessful and it was not until the late 1950s tea was re-introduced successfully into the Mulindi valley. During the 1960s, tea growing expanded and, due to the demand for CTC teas for teabags, the industry moved heavily onto this method of production. 

After the 1994 genocide, Rwanda continued to produce good black CTC teas and, with governmental help, the industry expanded. Up until 2004, all the factories were owned by the state but now, with the recognition of the need to invest and grow, all the tea factories have gone into private ownership.

The majority of tea is produced by small scale farmers who produce over 65% of the country’s tea leaves and sell them on to company owned factories. Tea production continues all year round due to the closeness of the country to the equator and the teas are categorised as Valley or Hill tea, according to where they are grown. 

Valley tea is grown at low elevation on reclaimed marshlands, where the tea bushes grow fast in the warm humidity and possess a full-bodied and rich flavour, are a deep coppery hue but are not of the quality of hill teas. The misty, cooler air means the hill teas grow slower on the fertile mountain slopes developing flavours which are smooth, rich and full bodied with hints of malt and molasses surpassing the valley teas in quality. 

The majority of teas are CTC produced although, as in other African countries, some estates are now experimenting with growing orthodox produced teas as well as green and white teas. Ninety nine percent of the tea grown is now exported and is a vital cash crop for Rwanda.

Discover Kenya

Tea growing was experimentally started in the 1850s in South Africa but it was not until the beginning of C20th that tea growing started in earnest in Kenya. A farmer, Arnold McDonnell, had tried growing various crops including flax and coffee on a farm near Nairobi.

The high altitude proved unsuitable so, in 1918, he turned to tea growing which proved highly successful and by 1926 he had produced the first commercially grown tea in Kenya. Many other farmers followed and, by 1933, black tea from Kenya was being exported to London. Kenya is now the largest producer of tea on the African continent and the 4th largest tea producer in the World after China, India, and Sri Lanka.

The major tea growing areas are in the Kenyan Highlands, West of the Rift Valley, Nandi and in the regions of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares. 

As opposed to the centralised tea estates found in such countries as India and Sri Lanka, the tea growing is done by over half a million small farmers, all operating independently who sell the fresh leaves to foreign companies or government owned factories where the tea is then processed. Small farmers produce over 60% of the country’s teas.

The hot and humid conditions with good rainfall and the geographical closeness to the equator mean the tea bushes grow all year round and the quality seasons are January and February and July and August during the drier months.

The majority of teas being produced in Kenya are black teas made by the CTC method but there are also some very good orthodox teas along with some white and green teas now being produced as well.

Discover China

China is the birth place of tea drinking. The legend tells of Shen Nung, a herbalist, farmer, and mythical Emperor who one day, in the year of 2737 BC, took rest under a tree. His servant lit a fire and placed a pan of water on it to boil. A few leaves from the tree drifted down into the boiling pot and Shen Nung took a sip of the infusion and declared it to be both delicious, restorative and detoxifying, and... voila! Tea was born.

China was the first country to develop commercial cultivation and from there the drinking habit drifted into Japan, S.E.Asia, Mongolia, and Tibet. Overland trade routes followed which carried tea to The Middle East until Western nations in the sixteenth century via shipping routes became acquainted and enamoured with the drink.

China is a vast country and each region has its own distinct climate and terrior producing teas with very different characteristics. All types of teas are produced but,of course, China is especially known for its green teas.

The tea-growing areas of China are roughly split up into 4 regions. The South West region includes Yunnan and Guizhou, whereas the South East region includes Guangdong, Fujian, and Guangxi. The Jiangnan area South of the Yangtze River and includes Zhejiang, Hunan, and Jiangxi. And finally, there's the region North of the Yangtze, Jiangbei area, which includes Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu.


Discover Taiwan

Taiwan’s subtropical climate in the North and the warmer tropical climate in the South along with the warmer months bringing cool misty mornings, sunny days and plentiful rainfall mean Taiwan has the perfect tea growing climate. Tea is grown in most areas of Taiwan except for the low-lying coastal regions encircling the island.

The island of Taiwan is situated off the east coast of China, opposite Fujian Province, with the Strait of Taiwan dividing the two countries. Both the political history and the tea growing history of these countries is very closely connected and intertwined and this amalgamation has led to some of the most stunning oolongs in the world being produced here.

During the 14th century, mainland Chinese people started to settle on the island and Portuguese traders sailing past the island in 1542 named it Isla Formosa (beautiful island). Formosa is a name that until quite recently was used to identify tea from Taiwan.

In the early part of the 1620s, Dutch east India Company made Formosa its base for trading into China and Japan and, in 1645, recorded having seen tea trees growing there. A colony was established on the island and the Chinese people were encouraged to settle and farm rice and sugar cane. The Chinese traders from the mainland sold tea to the Dutch but in 1662 the Dutch were expelled from the island and Taiwan became a prefecture of China under the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). 

During the 1690s and early 1700s, it was recorded that wild tea trees had been found growing in Taiwan, and these plants are still used today to make and help in the creation of new cultivars (cultivated varieties). When the late 18th century saw Chinese people from Wuyi Shan, Fujian Province settle on the island. They brought with them not only their tea making skills, but the seeds and plants which were the catalyst for the production of some of today’s most famous and fabulous oolongs.

There are 8 main types of tea produced in Taiwan which can be defined by the level of oxidisation and type of production. This varies from green tea mainly grown in the North to the fully oxidised black teas made from bushes brought over from Assam over a hundred years ago. 

Discover India

Black Indian tea has become so much part of the UK drinking habit, it's hard to believe that less than 180 years ago tea wasn't even commercially grown in India. 

 Until the first half of the 19th century China was the only country exporting tea in the World and held the monoply on tea production. However, with increasing trade tensions between China and Britain alternative sources were explored and India was found to be an ideal for tea growing country.

There are several tea growing regions in India; the most famous being Darjeeling, Assam, and the Nilgiris. Each area produces teas with very distinct flavours, which are determined by the altitude, terrain, climate, tea making process, and the variety of camellia sinensis used.

Darjeeling teas produced in N.E.India are sought all over the World and have flavours unique to the region. Darjeeling is a seasonal tea growing area with 3 distinct growing seasons; first and second flush and autumnal teas.

 Assam teas are known for their rich malty flavours and are excellent for morning drinking. Assam teas are also seasonally produced, as Darjeelings are, with the leaves being plucked from March through to late autumn.

NIlgiri teas are produced in the Western Ghats range in Southern India. CTC is the main production here due to market forces in previous decades and now over 60% of tea is produced by small farmers who sell their tea to co-opratives or state-owned factories. Being close to the equator the bushes grow all year round but the best teas are produced during the dry seasons. 

Discover Japan

Tea was first introduced into Japan during the 8th century by monks returning from China who had been studying Buddhism and had used tea as a stimulant to stay awake during the long hours of meditation. However, it wasn't until the 12th century that tea drinking really took off in Japan. 

Eisai, a monk accredited with bringing Zen Buddhism to Japan, returned with tea seeds from China and planted them in North Kyushu. At that time in China, during the Song Dynasty, the method for preparing tea was to grind the tea leaves down to a fine powder and then whisk with hot water to create a froth. A method that Eisai brought back to Japan with him and can be still seen in Japan today and in the Japanese tea ceremony, Chanoyu.

During the 13th century, tea drinking became very fashionable and was adopted by intellectuals, noble men, and samurai alike, with tea tasting contests being developed which could last days and nights. During the 15th century, Chado, (Way of Tea), grew out of a shift towards tea drinking taking on a more spiritual meaning. 

From 1641 to 1853, Japan’s isolation policy of no foreign contact meant China was the only supplier of tea to the rest of the world. This inward policy lead to the Japanese developing their own ways of making tea. In the 15th century, the method of panning the leaves had been introduced and, although ground tea was still being consumed as part of the Zen tea ceremony at this time, these pan-fried teas were hugely popular but invariably of a very poor quality. 

So, in 1738, Seon Nagatani devised a method of steaming the tea before rolling and drying the leaves which produced a much brighter, fresher tasting tea with sweeter notes and of a much higher quality. This type of tea soon proved hugely popular and is the method still used today to produce the typical steamed Japanese teas. Another method of producing a tea which is still well-known today was also developed during this time. During the 1830s a tea grower named Kahei Yamamoto discovered a way of shading the bushes before plucking to produce gyokuro and tencha (from which matcha is made), resulting in teas of a beautiful bright green colour with an intense depth of flavour and sweetness.

With the abandonment of the isolation policy Japan looked to international markets for sale of its teas and by the 1920s Japan was exporting huge amounts, especially to America. However, with the advent of the tea growing areas of India, Sri Lanka and Africa Japan could not compete with their industrialised means of production and Japan turned inward again back to its own market for sales. 

During the 20th century, the Japanese tea industry became computerised and highly developed and was able to produce high quality teas at very reasonable prices for its own domestic market. Now 97% of all tea produced in Japan is consumed within their own market.

The identification of specific gardens, villages or estates applies much less in Japan than other tea growing countries. Regions or prefectures are the usual means of identifying terrior as the tea is commonly mixed from different gardens within the same region. Therefore the process by which the tea has been produced is usually a good indication of what taste to expect rather than the terrior or specific tea grower involved.

Discover United Kingdom

Tea has only been grown in Britain for the last 20 years, but the idea had actually been explored 60 years earlier. During the Second World War, Winston Churchill had discussed the idea of growing tea as part of the Dig for Victory Campaign as a way of keeping British morale up and ensuring a steady supply of tea. However, due to the length of time a tea bush takes to mature (at least 4 years), the idea was dismissed.

It was not until 1999 when the garden director Jonathon Jones and the owner, Evelyn Boscawen, of Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall realised how compatible the camellia genus was with the Cornish soil. Camellia japonicas had been thriving for over 200 years on the estate and, after extensive global research, the first tea was produced on the Tregothnan Estate in 2005. 

Through careful tending and experimentation, the number of tea bushes has now increased and throughout the growing season tea is plucked and produced. The Estate produces and blends several types of tea including an Afternoon Tea and a green tea. 

Tea growing in Great Britain is still very much in its infancy, but attempts to grow tea commercially are now taking place in Devon, Wales, Northern Ireland, and several gardens in Scotland.

Discover Sri Lanka

Now Sri Lanka is the largest exporter of orthodox teas and produces the cleanest teas in the world and although Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948 tea from this wonderful country is still known Ceylonese. Many of the original planters were Scottish and tea estates still bear such evocative names as Dunedin, Glasgow or St.Andrews...a poignant reminder of how they must have missed home!

However what really makes Ceylonese teas so special is the strikingly different teas from each of the 7 main tea growing areas of Ceylon...think France and the different wine producing regions. Each of the tea growing areas has its own weather pattern, geographic features , altitude and peak season leading to distinctively individual teas not found anywhere

Low grown teas produce a smooth, strong dark cup; high grown teas a light, delicate and citrusy one. The hills in Sri Lanka run north to south from the centre of the island down to the South Coast and each side of the range experiences different weather patterns. The West side of the island is battered with monsoons during June to September whilst the East coast is drenched December to March leaving the dry season to bring winds which slow growth and exacerbate flavour in the new leaves producing quite extraordinary “ peak season” teas. I seek and buy these “seasonal teas” for their unique character and superb quality and whilst Sri Lanka is mostly known for its black teas there are some fabulous white and green teas being grown now which I am delighted to feature in our subscription service.

Other Countries...

Along with the five countries above, which we always stock tea from, we source from Thailand, South Korea, and Myanmar.