The English love tea. Yeah, no kidding. A statement like that ranks right up there on the blatantly obvious scale along with such gems as rain is wet and dogs bark. Though tea got its start in China, the English were probably more instrumental than anyone in spreading it to the rest of the world. To help ensure an uninterrupted supply of tea, they also set up tea plantations in India, where total tea production nowadays rivals that of China.
Tea and England have been so closely associated over the past few centuries that the Icons project selected it as one of the cultural touchstones – along with Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Doctor Who and more – that have helped form the nation’s identity.
While you probably can’t take two steps in England without tripping over a cup of tea, until recently you would not have found much in the way of tea growing there, or at least not tea designed to be sold commercially. This changed in the late Nineties when tea first was cultivated at the Tregothnan Estate, in southwestern England.
By spring 2005 the first tea harvest was ready to be picked at Tregothnan, which has been an ongoing concern for nearly seven centuries. These days, along with such homegrown products as honey and plum jam, you can buy a variety of different teas produced at the Estate, including Classic Tea, an Earl Grey variety and Afternoon Tea.
For more on the history of tea production at Tregothnan Estate, refer to this informative article. For some opinions on four varieties of Tregothnan tea, check out this review, by yours truly. If you’d like to read more about tea-growing initiatives in unlikely locales – in this case, the United States – take a look at this recent article, posted right here at the English Tea blog.
Find more interesting tea facts over on William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks.