Until relatively recently eating food that had been grown locally was the only game in town for most of the world’s peoples. With the advent of modern transportation methods these practices fell by the wayside for many of us but have seen something of a resurgence in recent years with the so-called locavore movement.
All of which means very little to tea drinkers in many parts of the world. If you live in the United States, for example, you can drink locally grown tea only if you happen to live near a handful of small-scale growers in South Carolina, Washington or Hawaii. The situation is similar in Great Britain, whose endless thirst for tea will never be satisfied by the output of one lonely plantation in the southern part of England.
If you live in China or India, the world’s top tea-producing countries, then your chances of getting your hands on some locally grown tea are probably better than they are for most of us, although much of the output of these nations is marked for export. As of 2007, China, which is known for turning out some of the world’s most notable tea varieties, was the also the world’s top tea grower, turning out more than a million tons.
Not far behind is India, which turns out a substantial amount of tea, most of it from the Assam region. But with the exception of the relatively modest amounts of tea grown in the Darjeeling region and some single-estate Assams, Indian tea is not generally the first choice of connoisseurs.
As is the case with the African nation of Kenya, the third-ranked tea growing nation, with its output consisting primarily of black tea that would be considered suitable mostly for everyday drinking. Other noteworthy players on the list are Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and Japan, which take positions number four and six and which both turn out a number of impressive varieties. Japan is especially notable for producing a number of great green tea varieties. Rounding out the world’s top ten tea growing countries, Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Argentina and Iran.
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