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Green tea is all the go

In the 19th century, many of the world's last great sailing ships raced to deliver thousands of tons of black tea from the Far East (notably India and China) to Britain and Australia. Today, both the UK and Oz have begun growing their own green tea, much of it to be sent to Japan.

We discovered this surprising reversal after reading a story by Heather Pillans in our local newspaper, the Gosford (New South Wales) Central Coast Express Advocate, which reported:

After a five-year pilot rural research program, the NSW Department of Primary Industry and Japanese green tea company Kunitaro last week held a green tea field day for its first harvest of spring and to encourage investment in the emerging industry...

Japanese tea enthusiasts identified the coast... as an ideal location that produces high quality tea.

We've enjoyed drinking Australian-grown black tea from tropical Queensland for years. Dr Allan Maruff developed our first commercial plantation in 1959 in the NeradaValley, on the foothills of the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. Today, Nerada is the largest supplier of Australian-grown teas to the domestic market.

Green tea is simply unfermented black tea. It comes from the same camellia bush, a close relative of the beautiful flowering camellias grown in our gardens.

"Green tea is derived from tea leaves that have been steamed, rolled, then fired; black teas are derived from tea leaves that have been withered, rolled and fermented, then fired," says the American website "The Republic of Tea."

Britain marketed its first commercial tea only a few weeks ago. It was grown on the Tregothnan estate, near Truro, Cornwall. The company's website tells the story:

Tregothnan Estate has succeeded in creating the ultimate quality leaf in conditions superior even to those in Darjeeling, home of the world’s most famous tea...

Tea comes from a special form of Camellia sinensis; Tregothnan was... first to grow Camellia ornamentally outdoors 200 years ago. The achievement has been with support from across the tea industry worldwide. Connoisseurs, planters, packers, scores of tea specialists as well as Objective One’s Cornish Horticulture Enterprises have helped Tregothnan deliver a world first: True English Tea!

A Lake Mary, Fla., woman has been arrested on suspicion she tried to kill her husband by putting anti-freeze in his green tea.
- Florida Today, November 16, 2005.

Most tea-drinkers add milk and/or sugar to their cuppa, but some have different ideas. "A fashion for mixing whisky with antioxidant-rich green tea has doubled Scotland's exports of whisky to China in the last year, with £1bn exported in the past six months alone," Gerard Seenan reported in The Guardian (London) on October 27.

Others like to add exotic fruits such as kiwifruit and shaddock to their tea. If you couldn't tell a shaddock from a haddock, the China Post (Taiwan) says it's also known as a pomelo, "a citrus fruit the people of Taiwan love to eat at this time of year."

Globally... only water is consumed at higher rates than tea. Tea is a staple in the Middle East and Africa. China and India produce and consume massive amounts of tea. Japan is famous for its ubiquitous cups of green tea. And Ireland tops the global list of per-capita consumption - with every Irish man, woman and child drinking nearly three cups a day on average.

In the United States, tea consumption took a patriotic hit in the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when enraged colonists dumped British tea into the harbor to protest taxes. While coffee came to dominate the United States, tea is gaining in popularity, Alyssa Giannini of the Tea Association of the U.S.A., based in New York, said. "Tea houses are popping up all over the place in New York," she said.
- Mary Jordan in the Washington Post.

 For more details, make yourself a cuppa, sit down again in front of your computer, and visit these interesting websites:


Story first posted December 2005

Copyright © 2005

Eric Shackle

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