Gorreana, Oldest Tea Plantation in Europe

Gorreana is the oldest and currently the only remaining tea plantation in Europe. It is located on the island of São Miguel in Azores, Portugal. The beginnings of production go back to the late 19th century and since then, they have kept the original traditions of the Orient, as well as the ancient qualities that have been in their family for five generations.

Grown hundreds of miles away from industrial pollution in the lush emerald green hills of the Gorreana estate, without the use of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides dyes or preservatives and harvested fresh, every April to September. At the peak of the annual harvest, they have a large celebration for a good and rich harvest. Gorreana’s single estate organic green and black teas have been in continuous production since 1883. They are a legacy of fine gourmet teas. Handpicked and produced pesticide-free for 130 years, Gorreana’s teas have remained a staple in European pantries for over a century.

The art of tea cultivation was introduced in the Azores by two Chinese tea experts in September 1874. The culture and passion for tea quickly spread from the European houses of Royalty to the working class where the European teas from the Azores were received with great excitement. You can visit Gorreana’s factory and museum, located in the city of Riberia Grande. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a cup of freshly picked tea while admiring the original “Marshalls” machinery that dates back to the 1840s.

The scent of fresh tea and exotic flowers alongside sweeping ocean views is a paradise. Just as rare as tea that owes its unique characteristics to the climate, the PH of argillaceous soil acid that is rich in minerals, and of course, the sea breeze that falls on the plantations as well as the artisan farming methods that are still in use in Gorreana. Those are the main reasons why, for over a century, the only place in Europe where tea is grown is here in Gorreana plantations in the luxurious island of São Miguel.

Since 1883 Gorreana has produced exclusively green and black tea. To learn more about the tea manufacturing process you can check this article about black tea production. All tea derives from a plant called “Camellia Sinensis” which is a small tree of the Theaceae family. In the countries where there is a rainy season, there are mosquitoes as well as the tea fly that bite the plants’ terminal bud and the leaf ends up not developing itself. For this reason, the tea plantations that exist in these countries have no other option but to use insecticides. On the other hand, in the countries where there is a dry season, there is the problem of the red spider that also has to be fought with insecticides and sometimes even with fungicides due to the development of fungus that attacks the tea plant.

As the island of São Miguel has neither a rainy nor a dry season, natural tea plagues do not exist here and that allow not to use any chemicals whatsoever on plantations. This is one of the major strengths of their tea, i.e., a 100% biological tea, since the soil of their plantations are exclusively fertilized with vegetable manure.

Nowadays Gorreana’s plantation covers 32 acres and produces about 33 tons of tea per year. A small portion is destined for the Azorean market since the rest is exported to mainland Portugal, Germany, USA, Canada, Austria, France, Italy, Brazil, Angola, Japan, and many other countries that value quality above all.

Sources:
https://gorreana.pt/en/
https://azorieden.com/europes-most-beautiful-tea-labyrinth-on-the-azores-curiosities-about-tea-and-the-cha-gorreana-tea-plantation/

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