Tea Gardens Around the World

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Tea is a popular ingredient that can be used in iced-teas, spirits, tonics, energy drinks and kombucha. The ready-to-drink (RTD) tea category is worth $4.5 billion a year globally and is growing. Last year Mintel reported: “79% of US adults drink tea, 60% drink RTD options, and 49% drink bagged/loose-leaf varieties.” Convenience, health claims and price are drivers for the rise in purchases of RTD options. The RTD market currently comprises: 57.7% black tea, 22.5% green and white tea and 19.8% herbal tea, according to IBIS world’s April 2017 report – RTD Tea Production in the US.

We look at some of the different types of tea that can be added to RTD tea-based beverages and what varieties can be found where:

China is known as the home of tea and has 2,649,840 hectares of tea planted. This accounts for 18.5% of the world exports. Varieties include: Black, White, Green, Yellow, Oolong and Pu-erh tea.

Zhejiang is the most famous region for Green tea, yet also produces small quantities of black teas. The region is hilly with a subtropical climate, located on the east coast of China, just north of Fujian which makes it ideal for the production of Long Jing (also called Dragon Well) and Gunpowder Green teas. Green tea is an ideal ingredient for energy drinks owing to its natural and impressive health benefits.

Anxi County is the tea capital of China, located in the southern Fujian region. It is known for producing a wide array of Oolong teas like Tieguanyin, a premium variety of Oolong with a floral and fresh flavour profile. Oolongs create a great base for RTD beverages due to its varied taste profile, ranging from light to full bodied and sweet and toasty notes.

India exports more than 12% of the world's tea, with 566,660 hectares under cultivation. The country is known for its Black tea production, particularly Assam and Darjeeling varieties. Darjeeling is often referred to as the Champagne of teas, owing to its light and delicate flavour. The tea is grown in the Darjeeling region in West Bengal in the foothills of the Himalayas. Indian terroir surrounded by Himalayan peaks, combined with Chinese genetics has crafted a complex and luxurious tea with flavours of honey and muscatel.

Assam tea is named after its region of production (Assam Tea Garden) and is the world’s largest tea-plantation area, covering over 216,200 hectares. It is grown by the sea, which gives the leaves a rich body and strong bright colour. The leaves are generally harvested twice a year from March to October (first and second flush).

India is also known for its Chai teas which are often made from Assam and Darjeeling Black tea, blended with spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and clove. Chai tea is popular in the RTD category, acting as a bridge between new tea consumers as well as satiating the tastes of regular tea consumers being formulated into cold brews, shakes, coffees and even chai flavoured kombuchas.

Sri Lanka
Altitude plays a part in the flavour of the tea. In Sri Lanka, tea is planted between 3,000 - 8,000 feet. The effect of altitude can play an important factor in the flavour of tea with the higher the altitude, the more delicate and refined the flavour. This may appeal to more discerning tea drinkers who enjoy a softer and rounded flavour profile. However, altitude, location can ultimately have an effect on price. Cost can also be influenced by the variety, harvesting method, yield, the market demand and which cycle of the harvest.

Ceylon Black tea is one of Sri Lanka’s most common tea which is used as a base around the world for Earl Grey tea and other fruit infused teas. White Ceylon and Green Ceylon are also produced in Sri Lanka. The green variety is mainly grown in the Uva Province and the White is cultivated from either the Green or Black tea plant.

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Africa’s climate makes it an ideal environment for growing tea all year round, with Kenya making up 25% of the world’s tea exports. The first Kenyan teas were planted in 1903 and now most tea is planted in the west in the Kericho region with Black tea making up most of all plantings. Rooibos is an indigenous variety to South Africa, where it is grown on the coastal Cederberg mountains of South Africa. The name translates to red-bush which refers to the tea leaves colour after oxidation. The tea provides a honey-like sweetness, which works well with RTD fruit driven beverages.

Japan is known for its production of Green tea, although there are small amounts of black tea grown too. The region of Shizuoka makes up around 40% of Japan’s overall tea production. Matcha is being formulated into more and more beverages. It has a distinct, astringent flavour profile. The two main Matcha growing regions in Japan are Nishio and Uji, in Kyoto. Environmental factors influence tea in Japan and production techniques also are an important factor in the end result. Matcha is naturally high in caffeine due to the pulverisation and consumption of the entire leaf, which in comparison to ground tea leaves that are infused in a bag provide a considerably lower amount of caffeine.

Our Tea Solutions
We work closely with growers and suppliers at the world's best Tea Gardens from China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Africa and beyond. We work with different regions’ harvesting and flush cycles, so that we can obtain the highest quality tea leaves of each variety.

Our range of Black teas, Oolong, Darjeeling, Rooibos, Green, White and Matcha distillates offer a variety of flavour profiles, as well as offering consistent flavours and transparency. These Treattaromes® provide our customers with convenient solutions, by replacing messy tea extracts, concentrates and powders to eliminate a costly and timely step for formulators. These solutions are ideal for RTD beverages as they are free-from caffeine and tannins, which make them ideal to formulate stable, consistent and reliable concentrates with.

How We Can Help
If tea is the top note, or if tea is the majority of your beverage, let our experts help you. With an unrivalled understanding of international tea tastes, our experts and team of trained and accredited Tea Sommeliers work in partnership with you to understand your needs, creating a bespoke solution for you. To get started, please email enquiries@treatt.com.