The Teas of Malaysia – A Small Start Begets Huge Rewards

Malaysia’s tea industry began in 1929 when long time resident, businessman,
and entrepreneur, J.A. Russell applied for and was granted a concession of land
in the lush Cameron Highlands, named after the Scottish purveyor, William
Cameron who discovered the area in 1885.
Partnering up with veteran
tea planter, A.B. Milne, from
Ceylon, their entry into the tea industry
would forever change Malaysia, which to that
point had been mostly dependent on rubber
and tin.
With only a single steam roller, some com-
mon laborers, and mules, the steep virgin
jungle slopes were cleared to create the first
highland tea gar- den in the country, named
BOH after Bohea, the mountainous region in

Fujian province where black tea
lapsang souchong) was first produced and
shipped to Europe.  From that first BOH
plantation J.A. Russell established himself as
the market leader for tea and remains the

majority tea grower in Malaysia still today.

One of the most fertile agricultural spots in Malaysia is Cameron
Highlands, located more than 5,000 feet above sea level on Malay-
sia’s main mountain range.  Cameron Highlands has everything
needed to grow abundant quality tea including high-altitude, plenty
of sunshine and moisture, with well drained soil.

Called Malaysia’s Green Bowl, it has the ideal terroir to produce superb black teas with a bright,
brisk, and robust flavor and enticing aromas.  Today, along with the original BOH tea plantation,
there are two more gardens, Sungei Palas and Fairlie located in Cameron Highlands, and a
fourth garden, Bukit Cheeding in Selangor covering a total of 1200 hectares.

The BOH plantations are Malaysia’s major
tea growers, producing about 4,000 tons of
tea annually which is about 70% of the coun-
try’s total yearly tea production.  This equat-
es to about 5.5 million cups of tea per day.

The remaining 30% of tea is produced by
other tea plantations in the area; Bharat Tea
Estate, and Blue Valley Plantation which also
produce quality orthodox teas that are aro-
matic, with a bright, smooth flavor and a rich
golden color.

BOH is one of the few companies that
controls all aspects of tea making from
planting and cultivation to harvesting,
processing, and packaging.  Each tea garden has its own processing facility, with the
Fairlie tea garden using some of the most advanced machines worldwide.  Tea is har-
vested using either hand held cutting machines or raised tractor harvesters.

Wth its ongoing commitment to quality BOH conducts long
term research and development in an effort to ensure
only the highest quality tea clones are cultivated. They
also employ in-house quality assurance teams to ensure
that strict quality requirements are met at each level of

In 2004 BOH won the Superbrand Excellence Trophy Award in the Food and Beverage
category and in recognition of its excellent brand identity received the National
Creativity and Innovation Award from Malaysia Design Technology Centre.

BOH not only retains a strong market position locally but has also
worked to expand its foreign niche markets as well.  BOH markets
and exports its brand of prime grade teas to many countries includ-
ing the U.S., Japan, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Brunei.

One tea to look for is BOH Palas Supreme, a FP (flowery pekoe) orth-
odox black tea with a twisted shape, it has a light, smooth taste and
sweet aroma of raisins with a bright coppery colored liquor.

For those traveling to Malaysia and wanting to view the tea gardens
up close, as well as sample their excellent teas, the Cameron Highlands Resort sports a
56 room spa-resort that offers a number of amenities, everything from visits to the tea
plantations, ancient tea rituals, tea baths, tea tastings, and even tea plantation
picnics and elegant afternoon teas.  Enjoy.