New Tea Growing Areas of the World: from lesser-known producers of good tea.
Tea is famously grown in China, Japan, India and Sri Lanka, but what of all those new tea growing areas, especially in the Far East – are they any good? Essentially tea requires warmth, high humidity, high rainfall and acidic, well-drained soils. Plus, of course, a culture of producing good tea.
As you will see below, many of these teas are CTC (Cut Tear Curl), rather than traditional orthodox teas so we would not consider stocking these as their flavours are less distinct. However, there are some interesting ones here and we aim to continue to identify the best, especially where they are of notable character, and offer them to our customers.
They have been growing Assam varieties since the late nineteenth century, mainly in the south around Mulanje. Now over 40,000 tonnes are exported each year. These strong teas are extensively used in blends. Malawi is second to Kenya in African tea production volumes.
Zimbabwe relies on irrigation for the successful growing of its teas. Again, mainly used for blends.
Whilst green teas have been grown here for centuries black tea was only first made in the 1950’s and the war of the 1970s disrupted production significantly. Much foreign investment has helped restore tea production. Teas are grown in the central tropical areas to the northern mountains. More oolongs are now also being grown in the south. We offer a good oolong from Vietnam.
Tea has been produced here since 1900 and especially since the 1920s but by the 1950s tea had become Uganda’s fourth largest export. The quality tends to be poor with lack of consistency and lack of investment. Most teas are CTC and are sold at auction through Mombasa.
Most tea is produced in the southern highlands, again CTC. Tea production dates back to 1905.
To the north and east of Tanzania, Rwanda produces some excellent orthodox teas, every bit as high in quality as Assam or Ceylon teas. Teas were first successfully planted here in the 1950s and rewarding cultivation and manufacture is now demonstrative in that tea is now the country’s second biggest foreign exchange earner after coffee. Altitudes extend to 8,000 feet and rainfall is good with night frosts at these altitudes stressing the bushes to bring out the flavour.
Since 1877 teas have been grown in the Transkei, Natal and the Eastern Transvaal. Some single-origin CTC tea is grown at the Ntingwe Tea Estate.
Tea has been grown here for two centuries since the Dutch first planted it in Java, followed by Sumatra and more recently in Sulawesi. It is light and popular in its domestic market although much is exported. CTC teas are now produced alongside orthodox and comprises green, black and jasmine teas. Initially China stock, they are now Assam varieties which thrive better.
Black orthodox teas are grown on the Boh Estate in The Cameroon Highlands. Smooth and light, the teas compare with some Ceylons.
Some gardens date back to the 1850s when neighbouring Darjeeling was also planted although many date only from the 1970s. The best quality teas are high-grown orthodox. CTC teas are also produced on the lowland Terai, bordering the plains of northern India. We stock several high-grown orthodox teas from Nepal. They tend to share some of the muscatel properties of Darjeeling yet tend to be rather smoother.
Tea was first grown here in 1903 and now Kenya is the world’s third largest tea producer. Tea is produced high in the Kenya Highlands above Lake Victoria at altitudes of 5000-9000ft where there is sufficient rainfall. Marinyn is one of the most famous orthodox tea gardens which is represented in our selection of Kenyan teas.
Teas from this very low lying area are akin to the Nilgiris of southern India and have good colour and a slight spiciness. The vast majority of teas grown are black CTC.
In addition to these countries several South American countries also produce a little tea in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. They are primarily used for blending and instant teas.
Arunachal Pradesh, India
Arunachal Pradesh is known as the land of the rising sun is the most northerly of India’s twenty-nine states and rises to 23,000 feet. To the north-east of Assam, its soils are often highly fertile and the humid climate and high rainfall makes this area ideal for growing tea.
Do explore teas from these new tea growing areas. You may well discover some beautiful teas full of character and at remarkably good value. Be adventurous!
Go to our Tea Store.