With all due respect to the good people of Guatemala I have to admit that I don’t know too much about their country, aside from the fact that it’s located in Central America and it’s well-known for its coffee. By some estimates, Latin America accounts for about two-thirds of all of the world’s coffee and Guatemala is actually in the top ten of the world’s coffee producers. But it’s probably not so well-known that they also grow tea there.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Guatemala is included among the world’s minor tea producers. Perhaps it’s a sign of tea’s standing there that the Wikipedia entry for the country doesn’t even make mention of tea at all. Nor does one map for 2008 which shows no tea production of significance at all in North or Central America.
Which is hardly a reason to count Guatemala out. Being a citizen of these United States and writing this article for an American company I’ve often had occasion to write about some of the modest tea producers here that wouldn’t make it onto such a map. Not so long ago some of these producers banded together and formed an organization which will be covered in more depth here soon.
But the topic is Guatemala and so I’ve digressed in the interests of trying to make a point that bigger is not necessarily better. One notable tea producer in Guatemala is The Los Andes Private Nature Reserve, who make their Internet home here. According to their site, tea production began there in the mid-Fifties, courtesy of an Englishman who spent part of each year there. It wasn’t long before construction began on a factory to process the output from the new tea gardens.
While the site’s tea section is a little tricky to navigate to (mouse over the Coffee and Tea image at the top while clicking tea) it reveals that production there totals about 50 tons annually of organic black tea grown from Assam and Chinese hybrid plants. The tea gardens there were covered in more detail in an article in one of the industry trade journals about a decade ago. Look for a little more about Los Andes, Guatemalan tea and even a few reviews of the stuff at a popular tea review site.
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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