Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Tea Growing Nations of the World by Fenton Wayne

India boasts the largest tea production in the world, but there are many other countries that also produce tea including Turkey, Argentina and Russia.

It may also be hard to believe, but England also produces its very own tea. The Tregothnan Estate near Truro in Cornwall has been a commercial tea growing estate since 2005 and now actually sells its finished product to - amongst other places - China! The wet climate of south west England is idea for the tea plant.

The top ten tea producing nations of the world, based on 2008 figures are the following...

10TH - IRAN Iran is a major tea consuming country but its first specialist production factory wasn't built until 1934. It now has over 100, most of them based around the town of Lahijan. Iranian tea production is mostly of high quality black teas, however the tea industry has recently hit trouble due to plantation and factory owners being able to earn more money by building and selling houses on their land. Production figures in 2008 were 59,000 tonnes

9TH - ARGENTINA Argentina is best known for its production of Mate tea - which is not a true tea (from the camellia sinensis plant) but from the holly like yerba mate plant. Nevertheless true tea production - generally black tea - from northern Argentina, was in the region of 70,000 tonnes in 2008.

8TH - JAPAN The Japanese people love tea and are the world's fourth largest consumers. An excellent quality green tea is the main product with over 90,000 tonnes being produced in 2008, however the export of Japanese tea has dwindled over the past few decades due to the high costs of land and labour.

7TH - INDONESIA Tea has been part of the Indonesian way of life for over 200 years, with Java and Sumatra being two of the main growing areas. The Indonesian tea estates were in very poor condition after WW2, with abandoned factories and tea plantations that had reverted to their wild state. Due to heavy investment in the 1980's exports from Indonesia began to expand. Since then however, old estates have been replanted and large investments made in machinery. Teas from Indonesia are light and subtle flavoured, with most being sold for blending purposes and more than 150,000 tonnes of tea production was recorded in 2008.

6TH - VIETNAM Much like its coffee counterpart, tea from Vietnam is produced for quantity rather than quality. Most of the tea exported is black and used in blended teas. There is however a rich culture of green tea drinking within the country and their green teas are of a high standard. More than 170,000 tonnes of tea was produced in 2008 by Vietnam.

5TH - TURKEY Turkey was probably the first nation to absorb tea into its culture and heritage and is today a heavy consumer. Black Turkish tea is produced mainly on the eastern coast, which has a mild, wet climate with fertile soil. Within the country this tea is usually known as Rize tea as virtually all of it is produced in the Rize province, on the Black Sea coast. The total tea produced in 2008 by Turkey was 200,000 tonnes.

4TH - SRI LANKA Under its former name of Ceylon, Sri Lanka used to be the world's biggest exporter of black teas. Tea from Sri Lanka falls into three categories: low-grown, medium grown, and high grown (this refers to the height above sea level and not the bush sizes). Each category produces teas of unique character and by blending from different areas of the island, Sri Lanka produces teas of a very wide range of flavour and colour. Because of its unique geographical location, tea can be harvested in Sri Lanka all year round as the west and east of the island are divided by central mountains and as one region's season ends, the other begins. Tea is the mainstay of the Sri Lanken economy and they produce over 300,000 tonnes.

3RD - KENYA As one of Africa's oldest tea producers, Kenya's history of tea production dates back over 100 years, when it began by using plants obtained from India. Today, due to the ideal climate, tea - mainly black - is grown and harvested all year round. Tea from Kenya is a common ingredient of popular UK tea brands. Together with coffee, tea is the major foreign exchange earner in Kenya, and the total recorded amount of tea produced in 2008 was more than 340,000 tonnes.

2ND - INDIA India is the worlds largest producer of black teas and second only to China in tea production overall. The two most well known and main growing areas are Darjeeling and Assam . Teas from Darjeeling, grown among the Himalayan foothills, are known as the 'Champagne' of teas for their wonderful delicate and distinctive flavour, whilst the more robust Assam's are favoured for their 'afternoon tea' quality. Indian teas are produced all over the country and whilst they are mainly black, some excellent quality green teas are also to be found. The total amount of tea produced in India in 2008 was over 800,000 tonnes.

1ST - CHINA The birthplace of tea, for hundreds of years China produced the only teas known to the western world. Although consuming much of its own production, China still accounts for nearly 20% of world exports. Whilst mainly known for its Green Teas, China produces five other principal types for which the country is famous: Black, White, Oolong, Pu'erh and Lapsang. Lapsang teas get their distinctive taste by smoking over pine needles. In China tea production occurs on large automated commercial area as well as on small traditional plantations. The total tea produced in China in 2008 was more than 1,250,000 tonnes.

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