Tea is grown and produced in many countries around the world, but there are several tea-growing regions that are best known for turning out one specific variety of tea.
Take Japan, for instance, which is known primarily for its many varieties of green tea and not much else. Or the state of Assam, which is located in northeast India. Assam is one of the largest tea-growing regions in the world and nearly all of the tea produced there is black. The same goes for India’s other tea-growing regions — Darjeeling and Nilgiri — which turn out black tea in much more modest quantities than Assam. Black tea is also the name of the game in Africa, another significant player in tea production. Then there’s Sri Lanka, which is best known for producing a black tea known as Ceylon, which is the former name of this island nation.
Among the big players there is one notable exception to this rule and that would be China, one of the world’s top tea producers. China grows pretty much all of the six major varieties — black, green, white, yellow, oolong, and puerh — within its considerable boundaries and is really not known for any one more than the others.
If you ever find yourself in the mood for something a bit offbeat, you might want to seek out lesser known teas from some of the aforementioned regions. Take black tea from Japan, for example. They’ve been producing it there for more than a century and though it’s never been anything more than a marginal contender it’s worth seeking out for its mellow, flavorful taste. Black matcha would seem to fall into the same category as other Japanese black teas, but the varieties on offer from various merchants seem to actually be powdered versions of Indian black teas. Matcha, as most of us know it, is a powdered tea made from Japanese green varieties.
Speaking of India, what better time to point out there are varieties produced there that aren’t black, though they are comparatively rare. I had the pleasure of tasting a white Assam some years back and found that it tasted — oddly enough — somewhat like a Darjeeling black. I have yet to run across any green Assam varieties, but a little bit of research suggests that they do exist, as is the case with green teas from both Darjeeling and Nilgiri.
As for Sri Lanka, as already noted, it’s probably best known for its somewhat astringent black tea varieties, but you should also be able to find some green and white Ceylons without too much effort. Ditto for Kenya, the most significant producer of black tea in Africa, which also makes very modest quantities of green tea.
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