The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
Teas of the World
For many generations tea drinkers have looked to and trusted China, Japan,
and India for their daily cup of tea.  When we think about tea production we
automatically think of these countries, and although they are some of the top
tea producers, they are joined today by many other countries worldwide where
quality tea is being made on a much smaller basis, much handmade
artisan tea produced on small farms or co-ops, and in some instances even at
home, right at the kitchen table, rolled and fired in small batches, one at a time.
As early as ten years ago there were few
specialty tea shops and for those in exist-
ence the selection of available teas was
meager at best.  Today there is an abund-
ance of tea shops, as well as quality online
stores and mail order, with the choices
seemingly endless.

The advent of air freight and vacuum pack-
aging has evened the playing field, so to
speak.  It has allowed small tea farms, co-
ops, and even individual families to market
and sell their specialty and handmade
artisan teas worldwide, something that
wasn't possible even a decade ago.

Today tea is produced in over 50 countries.  
Today tea is produced in over 50 countries.  Many of styles and flavors (there is said to be over
20,000 distinct tea variations) that can now be air freighted to the West, arriving in a matter of
days, fresh and flavorful as ever due to vacuum packaging.

The top ten tea producing countries are (in order of production
amounts):  China, India, Kenya,
Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Turkey,
Japan, Vietnam, Argentina, and Bangladesh, with China and
India consistently vying for the  number one slot.

Nearly every tea producing country has stepped up efforts with
increased production, wider selection, and upgrading quality where needed.  In some cases old
factories and machinery are being upgraded and new processing facilities are being built and
many small tea farms and co-ops are adding new handmade specialty and
organic teas, all in
response to the increasing demand for more tea worldwide.  
Up and Coming World Tea Producers
There are places you may not expect to see tea production, but as the demand for high quality
tea continues to rise, the amount needed to meet that demand grows exponentially with it.  
The top three tea producing countries are forever rivals, China and India at number one and
two, with the number three slot going to

On a much smaller scale for production are
countries like Taiwan whose tea industry be-
gan in the mid 1850's, when Chinese immi-
          grants left their
Fujian home and mi-
          grated there. By the end of the 19th
          century nearly two million former
          Fujian residents had made their way
          to the island, bringing their excellent
          tea making skills with them.

Taiwan is helping meet the
          worldwide demand for high quality
          teas, exporting about 70% of its an-
          nual yield of green and
black tea,
          along with their
oolong teas for
          which they're most famous.

          In Bangledesh, where the first tea garden was planted in 1857, the Bangladesh Tea
          research Institute is working on developing a new higher yielding clone that produces
          more tea per acre, thus increasing the amount of tea available for export.

Indonesia, whose tea industry went into a decline after
          WWII has worked tirelessly to come back.  With an increase
          in production and improvement in quality, they are helping
          to meet the ever growing demand worldwide for
CTC teas
          for tea bag blends, producing 165 metric tons in 2004.

          Bolivia is mostly unknown as far as tea production goes.  
          Tea cultivation began there in the 1930's when German and Dutch companies estab-
          lished plantations and processing facilities, but at the end of 2001 only two factories
          remained, with just a handful of tea farmers continuing to grow tea.

                                             In 2005 their tea industry was revived with help from the
                                             States Agency for International Development (USAID).  Today
                                             more than 200 Bolivian farms operate, growing
organic teas and
                                             specialty black, green, and jasmine teas.

                                             In the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains that form the border
                                             between Georgia and Russia, the conditions are perfect for grow-
                                             ing tea, with clean air, fertile soil, abundant rain, and clear runn-
                                             ing water.  Here Georgia tea growers are producing fine, organic
                                             handmade teas, some right in their own kitchens.

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Just as in China, where each generation hands down their secrets, skills, and knowledge of tea production, the
Georgian elders teach the next generation how to produce the highest quality, most fragrant, flavorful teas possible.  
From plucking to rolling, each family has its own methods of making tea that is passed down.

For decades Georgian families have been quietly making quality orthodox black teas by
hand.  Now, with help from a local entrepreneur and other businesses, these teas are
finally finding their way onto the world market, where their quality and flavor are driv-
ing demand.

These are just a few examples of up and coming tea producing countries that are work-
ing to bring quality teas to our table.  It's an exciting time for tea growers as more
people everyday realize teas pleasures and benefits.

Stop by often as we explore each country individually, looking at the
types of tea they produce, the processing
methods, climate and growing seasons, and other interesting aspects of the people and cultures that allow us to
experience the amazing array of teas that are being brought to our tables everyday.  
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