The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
Teas of the UK-Tea Growing Comes Home To
England on the Regal Tregothnan Estate
Tea has finally come home to England, this time in the form of the plant currently
being grown on the historical Tregothnan Estate located just outside of Truro,
near the River Fal.  It is the first true tea growing region in the United Kingdom,
with approximately thirty acres currently under cultivation, with plans for expan-
sion.  
Translated from Cornish, Tregoth-
nan means "the house at the head of the valley."  
The estate has belonged to the Boscawen family
since 1335, with the current owner the Honorable
Evelyn Boscawen.

With over a hundred acres of ornamental gardens
she is set on making the Tregothnan Estate a lead-
ing botanical garden.

The first ornamental
Camellias were plant-
ed over 200 years ago
at Tregothnan and the
estate was the first
location in Britain to
plant the ornamental tea outside.  But in 1996,
Jonathon Jones, a gardener at the estate deduced that if the ornamental Camellias (Camellia
japonica) could survive there, then so could its close relation, Camellia sinensis, the tea plant.

                                                 Jones also noted that the micro-climate of Cornwall was very
                                                 similar to that of Darjeeling in
India-lots of rain and a narrow
                                                 range of temperature extremes with the minimum temperature
                                                 in Cornwall even a few degrees higher than that of
Darjeeling.

                                                 With the agreement of the botanical team of Tregothnan, Jones   
                                                  set off on a tour of the UK, seeking samples from tea bushes
known to be growing outside, as well as securing funding from the Nuffiield Foundation.  He
assured the foundation board that the es-
tate was the perfect location for an English
tea garden and that Tregothnan would de-
vote twenty acres of land for growing tea.

With funding secured Jones then set off on
a journey to some of the major tea growing
countries of the world, including
China,
India,
Japan, Sri Lanka, and South Korea to
learn as much as he could about how to
grow and produce tea.

In 1999 the first cuttings and seeds were
imported from tea growing regions around
the world and planted in a twenty acre vall-
ey that had previously been planted with
carrots, potatoes, and peas.

                                  In the spring of 2005, after
                                  six years of careful nurturing,
                                  the first tea plants were ready
                                  for harvesting.  Plucking be-
                                  gan on May 3, with Tregothnan estate workers given the honor of being    
                                  the first English tea pickers.  After undergoing the traditional processing of  
                                  withering, rolling, oxidation, and drying, 50 kilos of Single Estate Tea--the   
                                  first ever produced on English soil was ready for sale.

                                  Because of this unique aspect, the finished tea sold at premium prices, of   
                                  course, at 28 pounds for 50 grams, sold through Fortnum & Mason in
                                  Piccadilly, along with a Classic Black Tea at just 10 pounds for 50 grams.

A new section of the estate has since been cleared and planted, in-
creasing the total to around 12.1 hectares (approximately 30 acres).
Around thirty different clonal varieties are being used, producing a
steady crop of tea throughout the growing season of March through
November.

There aren't a lot of
health issues that affect the growing tea bush-
es on the estate.  No pests have been found, and other than a non-serious sooty mold found
on baby plants in the nursery that posed no harm, and an occasional attack from pheasants,
deer, or rabbits, who love snacking on young leaf shoots, the tea thrives happily.

                                   With the tea gardens now successful and thriving, the next project on
                                   Jonathon Jones's agenda is to recreate
tea history at Tregothnan by
                                   having a replica made of the only surviving Wardian case in the world.  In
                                   the 1820s Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward designed the Wardian case to
                                   transport live plants.  In 1848 Robert Fortune used a Wardian case to
                                   smuggle 20,000 tea plants from China to
Assam, India.

                                   The estate's antique Wardian case was used during the Victorian period
                                   to bring rare plants to the family garden, and the estate team is proud to
                                   own such an amazing piece of horticultural history.

There are currently four teas being produced at Tregothnan; two
black teas, Tregothnan Classic, a broken orthodox leaf with a mix
of sweet golden tips, a robust taste and sweet aroma, with a
deep coppery colored infusion.  Tregothnan Afternoon, also a
broken orthodox leaf with flecks of green and gold tips, milder
than Classic, with a soft fruity aroma and a taste similar to a Dar-
jeeling, with a deep amber colored infusion.  Tregothnan Green is a lightly curled blend
of
China green tea and Tregothnan leaf that yields a light floral aroma and fresh herbal, and lightly grassy taste, with
an amber colored infusion.

Lastly, there is an
Earl Grey, flavored with bergamot, a citrus fruit similar to an orange, that is also grown on the
estate.  Tregothnan teas are currently being sold in about one-hundred outlets including Fortnum & Mason.  
Enjoy.
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