Georgian Tea and its revival
We have a newcomer to our tea selection, Georgian Wild Orange Pekoe. This Georgian tea revival is a black tea with large twisty black leaves and honeyed notes. It’s a real delight accompanied by an interesting story of how it first came into production. Read on to find out more about this tea and why it should be part of your tea collection…
History and Georgian Tea Revival
While herbal tisanes had long been a popular choice of beverage in Georgia, tea from the camellia sinensis plant was first brought there by royalty. Georgian Prince Miha Eristavi travelled to China in the 1830’s, this is where he first tasted tea and enjoyed it so much that he decided he wanted to bring it back home with him. At the time taking tea seeds outside of China was not allowed so the prince hid the seeds in a length of bamboo and bought them back to hi home country and established a tea garden in 1847.
The climate in Georgia worked well with the Chinese plants, and a new love for the drink emerged over the coming decades. Konstantin Popov, an experienced Russian tea merchant who owned several Chinese tea factories took the Georgian tea industry to a step further when he set up a large plantation in the village of village of Chakvi in 1892. With help from Chinese tea masters to cultivate his tea this formed the basis of what was, for a while, a thriving tea business. The tea even won a a gold medal at the Paris World Expo in 1899 !
By the 1920’s tea business was booming, Georgia supplied Russia with a huge percentage of its tea and by the 1950’s it was the world’s fourth most prominent tea exporter. This huge success for the Georgian tea industry came to a halt around the time of the USSR collapse, with politics affecting production and many tea plantations and factories being abandoned, becoming derelict and their equipment sold for scrap metal.
Luckily for us those of us who enjoy a good Georgian tea is enjoying a revival thanks to interest and financial backing from enthusiasts and entrepreneurs in the tea industry. The Georgian Tea Association was formed ( a collective of 16 families) and today there are around 19 tea factories, whose focus on producing quality teas is bringing their product back to the attention of tea lovers world wide. Their passion is paying off and in 2016 several awards were won at the Tea Masters Cup.
Georgian Climate and Tea Growing
The climate in Georgia is fantastic for tea cultivation, the chilly winter months and nights mean there is ideal for fending off plant disease, meaning there is little to no need for pesticides. The soil is fairly thin, so plants take a while to mature and therefore the leaves have a smooth flavour and plenty of aromatics.
The Taste and Leaf
While history and politics are interesting and important, the most important thing when it comes to our teas, is the taste! What can you expect from this particular tea?
The Orange Pekoe black tea leaves we have selected are high quality and are as fascinating to look at as they are to drink. From wild grown Chinese tea shrubs the long gnarly black leaves brew to create a layered flavour.
The liquor produced is bronze in colour and has a somewhat bread like scent. On the tongue the infusion is full but still more delicate than some black teas. There is a real sweet honey note that peeps through and some nuances of nutty, spicy and fruity flavours too. We are really pleased to have such a tea on our shelves and to be a part of the revival of Georgian Tea. Try some for yourself and discover what the the culmination of years of passion and expertise can produce.
Pop into the shop or order online here to see what all the fuss is about!