Skip to main content

Tea around the world

Tea, grown in Asia, enjoyed around the World.

For centuries the major tea producing countries have been in Asia, though Africa and even the U.S., on a small scale now grow the evergreen from which tea leaves come. China, Japan and India have long been known as the source of most tea products, with Taiwan and Ceylon contributing in the last two hundred years.

From China come several of the teas that grace tables around the globe, both green and black.

The green tea of China is grown at high elevations, from 2,500-4,500 feet (762m-1372m) above sea level. Climatic conditions provide for excellent growing conditions, though the labor intensive nature of tea growing makes them difficult to care for there. There are some varieties that are ready for harvesting for only a few weeks out of the year, making them all the more difficult to process.

Dragon Well is a delicious green tea that comes from China. Its flat, shiny leaves that hint of chestnuts have been enjoyed by the Chinese for centuries. Another popular green tea from China is the Jasmine Balls variety. Rolled into a ball by tea workers, the long leaves are prepared by surrounding them with Jasmine flowers.

Keemun tea, which has been consumed in Great Britain for 150 years, also has its origins in China. As a black tea, it's actually more popular in Europe than its home country.

Most of the green tea shipped around the planet also originates in China, Japan and Taiwan.

Japan's production is among the highest of any country, thanks to yields of 1,500 pounds per acre of this fine plant. Much of that comes from the Shizuoka region, south of Tokyo. The country consumes 98% of the home grown product, though, so it often seems as if they are one of the minor producers.

One of the most popular green teas in Japan is a variety known as Sencha. Served throughout the country, tea lovers will find it in any restaurant or store. Gyokuro is another very common tea in Japan, one with a caffeine content that is unusually high.

Matcha green tea is a type traditionally reserved for Japanese tea ceremonies, but now finds its way into many everyday circumstances where tea is consumed.

Hojicha, a kind of roasted tea, is also popular in Japan and has the advantage of having very little caffeine. Perfect for those who love tea, but are sensitive to the stimulant.

But by all accounts, India is and remains the world's most important tea producer. Demand, both internally and throughout the world, is so high that even this giant of tea production can't satisfy it all.

For the first time in years there are appearing shortages of Indian teas. The supply has become so tight that India now imports tea from Kenya, Indonesia and Vietnam to blend with native grown product. Kenya is among the world's largest exporters of black tea leaf.

India has dozens of different teas. There is the world-famous Darjeeling, of course. But there is also the Assam black, the Puttabong green and the Iyerpadi Estate black, popular for over a hundred years.

Naturally, there are many others one could mention. Rooibos from South Africa is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. and elsewhere. The Formosa Oolong from Taiwan has been on tables around the world for decades, if not centuries. The delightful teas of Ceylon have had a following for two hundred years.

No tea drinker would want to be restricted to a single country's output, since - like coffee - there are so many delightful blends from around the world. Internationalism is the hallmark of any tea devoted drinker. Drink up!