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      April 2013 > T is for… "The only tea grown in Europe"

T is for… "The only tea grown in Europe"

OK, it’s time to hold my hands up; I was misled; I didn’t do enough research; I should have checked; I took it at face value. What am I talking about? Well, those of you who recently received our email newsletter on the many good reasons to visit the Azores this summer will have noticed that one was to 'drink the only tea grown in Europe'.

However, several recipients soon pointed out that this is not, in fact, the case. I was soon alerted to a well-established tea plantation here in the UK – the Tregothnan Estate near Truro in Cornwall.

I discovered to my delight that Tregothnan (home to the Boscawen family since 1335) has been supplying England’s first and only tea (Camellia sinensis) since 2005, although Tregothnan is believed to have been the first place to grow ornamental Camellias outdoors almost 200 years previously. Visit their website to learn more – or better still, call in the next time you’re in Cornwall and try some.

To be fair, the owners of the Gorreana Tea Estates in the Azores describe their ‘world-class’ tea as being grown in the Europe's ‘oldest remaining tea plantation’, not the 'only' one. The family-owned estate dates from 1883, when Ermelinda Gago Da Camara and her son Jose-Honorato opened a factory selling the first tea grown under the Gorreana name, a tradition the current generation are proud to continue to this day. Let’s face it, located in the mid-Atlantic Ocean off the western coast of Europe, you couldn’t get cleaner air (or fresher rain!) anywhere, and the lush mountains and valleys of the Azores, painted in innumerable shades of green, are said to produce 'the finest and most environmentally friendly teas imaginable'.

This discussion prompted me to look further into the matter and I soon discovered that the Swiss are also claiming to have the 'only tea plantation in Europe', too – are you listening, Cornwall? Monte Verita near Ascona, at the northern end of Lake Maggiore, also claims to be 'the world’s northernmost tea plantation', boasting not just a small plantation, but also a Japanese teahouse. It started life in the 1900s as a Bohemian commune for artists and intellectuals, amongst whom were dancer Isadora Duncan, painter Paul Klee and radical Vladimir Lenin (who came in 1910) possibly attracted by the fact that 'women took off their corsets and men wore long hair and beards'.

Today, it remains a tranquil retreat with a Bauhaus-style hotel amid botanical gardens and the tea plantation. You can actually visit the tea house on our walking holiday in the Italian Lakes (Lake Orta to Lake Maggiore, below) on which you walk from Brissago to Locarno (via Monte Verita) and then catch the boat back. (Corsets optional.) (Other good walking holidays and short breaks in Italy also available!)

If you come across any more 'only tea grown in Europe' locations, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Self-guided walking holidays in Eueope

Posted: 29/04/2013 14:31:12 by | with 1 comments
Filed under: gastronomy, heritage, Italy, opinions, Portugal, Switzerland

Miguel Viterbo
Thanks for the information about the English and Italian teas!
Russia has their own "northernmost tea" too. It's Krasnodar / Dagomys tea, planted in Dagomys, 30 km south of Sochi, the 2014 Winter Olympics town.
08/12/2013 18:56:06

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