The plant that tea comes from grows across much of Asia, its native home – Sri Lanka, India, Viet Nam, China etc… it grows, and is cultivated, in 35 countries across the world such as Africa, Argentina and even the UK (!) to name just a few. It can grow anywhere, and in most climates – from small gardens, to giant plantations spanning acres. However, there’s a common set of criteria needed for the successful cultivation of the real grade-A stuff.
High Altitude – you tend to find wet, misty conditions the higher up you go, which is great for a plant that needs to be protected from harsh sunlight, and access to plenty of water & minerals as it grows. The leaves can mature slowly without the worry of being scalded by fierce temperatures, and despite it taking longer to grow at higher altitudes, the flavor produced is better – in other words, it’s worth the wait!
Steep mountain slopes – some of the highest quality tea comes from mountain ranges with an altitude of over 1200m. This creates a perfect atmosphere of misty & humidity to help leaves absorb as much water, and nutrients as possible.
Sub-tropical climate – despite being able to grow in most climates, the best type of tea comes from plantations in humid climates – typically above 10 degrees. This climate gives the plants the best chance of maturing slowly, and developing the perfect flavors.
Moist, acidic, deep soil – tea needs rainfall, at least 50inches of rainfall to be precise, in order to flourish. They prefer deep, acidic soils in order to soak up some of the much needed minerals for successful growth.
As mentioned earlier, there are other areas, climates and conditions that tea can and does grow, i.e The UK – something I’m looking forward to exploring in more detail as I progress with this project. Must admit, I’m finding it difficult to imagine the UK as a tea-friendly environment, I shall have to write to the team at Tregothan, to find out!
For now however, getting the basics is key. And on that, I’ve invested in two great books to help me on my quest. I’ll be reviewing them shortly, and sharing all my learnings.
World Atlas of Tea, Krisi Smith
See you next time,
Sources: teaclass.com / World Atlas Of Tea, Krisi Smith, Wikipedia