The Tea Lands
China is the birthplace of tea and one of the world’s largest tea producers. A wide variety of teas, many known as the finest in the world, are cultivated and processed in China: green teas, semi-oxidized oolongs and white teas, black teas and fermented puer, even the rare yellow teas. In China, tea drinking and production are woven into innumerable legends and countless traditions.
Taiwan (Formosa) has a population that includes many who fled from mainland China in 1949, bringing with them family belongings, souvenirs of the days under Chiang Kai-Shek, and traditional tea-processing skills. Their meticulous care and innovation produce teas with magical flavors and aromas found nowhere else.
Japan crafts green teas using a different method than in China. After the leaves have been picked and allowed to wither and curl, they are put through hot steam and only then rolled and dried. This gives them their unique and inimitable properties, including the exquisite aroma and fresh green color of the infusion.
India produces seasonal teas that are real treasures, but most of the population drinks tea that is either powerfully strong or blended with a sweet milk. While India is known mainly for the products of the famous regions of Darjeeling and Assam, where local tea planters cultivate refined varieties of the Chinese and Assam tea plants, very high quality tea can also be found in other regions such as Nilgiri, Sikkim and Doars.
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) established tea plants in the late 19th Century on the ruins of blighted coffee plantations. The names of the Kandy, Uva, Matale, Dimbula and Nuwara Eliya districts represent tea gardens at all levels, including teas that grow in the highest gardens of the world at heights of 7,500 feet above sea level.