For hundreds of years, tea has flowed from the east (originally China) to the west, and has been a huge part of British culture. Just as in the U.S. and Canada, Britain’s favorite drinks aren’t grown in Britain. Until recently, that is.
The Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall, owned by Evelyn and Katharine Boscawen, is growing Camellia sinensis (tea bushes) for production, and is now starting to reverse the flow of tea by exporting their products to countries like China. Their production is small — projected to be about $3.14 million this year — but having even a small portion of that sold on the export market means the flow now goes both ways.
Although the estate has only been growing for production since 2005, rumor has it that Tregothnan was growing ornamental tea bushes in the early 1800s. They are now producing both black and green tea, using the Japanese (steamed) method for the green. They also grow a variety of flowers and herbs.
In addition to production facilities, Tregothnan also has a tea bar. As I perused their website, I came across a quote that reflects the philosophy of my own tea bar perfectly:
This is a point that we heard over and over at the World Tea Expo last year. Coffee shops are all about energy. They are designed for a frenetic feel, for higher sound levels, for ramping up for the day. Tea shops fill a different niche. Although we serve a caffeinated beverage, we’re about relaxing, slowing down, and shedding the stress that we wear like a overly-bulky jacket during the workday.
For more information about the estate, visit their website (linked above). Also, a boston.com article from last month provides a bit more information and a whole lot of wonderful pictures.