Tea is traditionally grown in a tea garden. A garden can vary in size from a few bushes to hundreds of acres in size. Every major tea-producing country has its own specialties in the industry. Each country offers its own unique terroir and cultural practices in producing and handling tea.
There are five traditional tea-producing countries:
China – the first origin of tea. Tea was first cultivated here around 200 A.D. First used as a medicine, it eventually developed into the beverage we know today. China continues to be a leading supplier of specialty tea. It is traditionally known for pan-fired green teas.
Japan – Buddhist monks brought tea here from China around the fifth century A.D. The Japanese have their own unique styles of growing and preparing tea that differentiate their offerings from other countries.
Taiwan – Tawain has been a major exporter of tea in recent history. Taiwan is especially well-known for its green and oolong teas. Sometimes teas from Taiwan are still called by their former name “Formosa.”
India – the British both planted and discovered tea in India in the 1800s. India is largely known for its black teas today. Assam, Nilgiri and Darjeeling are the most famous tea-producing regions in the country.
Sri Lanka – the British planted the first tea in Sri Lanka . Some of the tea bushes there today are the very same ones planted by the colonizers. The government of Sri Lanka still markets its tea under the British colonial name “Ceylon.”
These are the countries which have traditionally shaped the style and terroir of tea. Most specialty tea consumed in the world still comes from these areas, and they are the countries which charge the most for their teas. In addition to the traditional tea growing areas, other countries whose climate and soil conditions are conducive to Camellia sinensis have also begun growing tea.
Kenya is now the largest exporter of tea in the world. Other African producers include Malawi and Burundi.
Argentina is where most of the US’s tea supply comes from. Argentine teas are thought to be especially well-suited for iced teas, and are thus a fitting source for American demand. Over 85% of all tea consumed in the United States is iced.