Canada’s First Tea Farm?

In the years that I’ve been writing about tea, I’ve commented a number of times about the relative scarcity of tea growers in the United States. We’re not really renowned for drinking tea here or growing it, although there is one producer of note – South Carolina’s Charleston Tea Plantation – and a number of other smaller operators.

It’s pretty much the same deal for North America, as a whole, as far as I’m aware. And while Canada seems to increasingly be the home for a number of tea merchants, including a few relatively big names, they too are apparently not much for tea growing either.

To put Canada’s tea consumption in perspective, consider that they drink a little less of the stuff per capita than we do here in the good old USA. Americans drink just over a pound of tea a year and are ranked at about number 70 worldwide. The Canadians fall a few notches down on the list, with a consumption of about 14 ounces a year.

But about that first Canadian tea farm. According to a recent article in the Vancouver Sun, the simply named Teafarm got started about five years ago when the founders planted 200 tea plants on their property on Vancouver Island. Don’t rush out to buy any of their homegrown tea just yet, mind you. The process of bringing tea plants from square one to a drinkable product is not a quick one. Don’t count on drinking any Canadian tea for a few more years yet.

Canada's Teafarm (image capture from site)
Canada’s Teafarm (image capture from site)

In the meantime, according to their Web site, Teafarm offers “a truly eclectic tea culture experience” and operates a teashop and gallery on their eleven acres, which they acquired in 2003. In addition to proper tea of the Camellia sinensis variety, the farm produces various herbs and other plants which are sold as tisanes and blended with other types of “real” tea that come from more traditional tea-growing regions far removed from western Canada.

As if that wasn’t enough there’s a tearoom on site and co-founder Margit Nellemann operates a gallery that features her ceramic teapots and more. And while I suspect that Canada may never support tea production on any significant scale, perhaps one day a few of us will be lucky enough to sample part of the modest harvest from our neighbors to the north.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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