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What Do You Think Are The Emerging Tea Nations?

Most serious tea drinkers know that China, Japan, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, and India are established tea powers. However, if you were to list 4 to 5 countries that could grow into becoming tea powers over the next 100 years, who would be on your list and why? I am also talking mainly with regard to orthodox tea production rather than CTC.

Here, are some possibles to consider:

Asia
Korea
Nepal
Vietnam
Thailand
Indonesia
Malaysia
Sikkim
Bangladesh

Middle East
Turkey
Georgia
Iran

South America
Argentina
Brazil

Africa
Kenya
Rwanda
Mauritius
South Africa

12 Replies

Seconding Kenya. I’m seeing a lot of Kenyan teas and tea companies being advertised on Twitter. Upton also has been getting into the African imports.

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Rie said

USA! Hawaii, most of all. But in the mainland, too! There are some growers in the Pacific Northwest, I believe.

Just for comparison, we could look at Taiwan. It’s a tiny island, and isn’t a huge-volume producer in comparison to countries like Sri Lanka and China, but the tea research and experimentation that was (and still is) conducted there made it a prominent tea country. Its tea culture is young, but strong because of it.

Couldn’t Hawaii be the next Taiwan? The USA is fertile ground for innovation, including in tea and tea culture.

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Angrboda said

Can I just point out that Sikkim is actually an Indian state, not a country?

Also, I definitely think it’s going to be some African countries. Kenya is already pretty large, but the majority of their leaf is ctc-ed and found in cheap teabags. In later years there seem to have been more loose leaf as we know it available and single origin too, so I think they are really breaking new ground these years. Other countries in the area of Lake Victoria, I believe will follow. Rwanda, like you mentioned, and I’ve also had a highly enjoyable tea from Tanzania. I should like to see some more development of African tea.

I agree. I think Kenya and another African country could rise in stature. They appear to be more and more willing to experiment with orthodox tea production and they also have a cheap labor force which is essential to make the business profitable to encourage more development in that area. On the other hand, warfare in that area could hamper their efforts.

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Lynxiebrat said

I hope there will be more tea growers here, in the continental United States. Though probably be slow about getting into the game and not as much as the other countries.

I just did a google search, apparently there are only 2 commercial tea growing companies in the continental US. 1 in Washington state, the other in South Carolina.

Unfortunately, tea growing in the United States runs into a number of complications which make it difficult to grow tea. So I don’t think we will see the US grow into a tea power without significant advancements in tea production. Two of the bigger issues are:
1. The wrong terroir- the terrain of the US and its weather does not lend itself well to high quality tea production.
2. Expensive labor force. Tea tends to require a cheap labor force to make the numbers work well for orthodox tea production and the labor force in the US is expensive compared to many other areas.

That being said, I think you will see more and more tea experimentation in the US as the interest continues to grow here. Also, tea may only be commercially grown in 2 or 3 states currently, but there is some non-commercial experimentation in a number of other states.

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sandra said

Nepal & Vietnam. (Have some green and black from these countries. wonderful teas at a great price.)
Most Nepal tea is organically grown, which I value.

I second Africa, but fear the lack of economical and social stability in regions won’t make them a world player in the end.

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ifjuly said

Yes, Nepal! Teas from there have become my secret weapon when it comes to decent quality, vaguely darjeelingish tea for cheap.

I think I read somewhere awhile back some South American countries are becoming big suppliers of cheap teabag tea for the US market, but my memory’s fuzzy on details.

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Nepal is an interesting choice. It has the right weather conditions and terrain to make good tea. It is right by Darjeeling and is said to have the ability to make similar quality tea. They are also experiencing rapid growth over the last 10 years. The challenge for them is infrastructure. They are said to have really bad roads, abject poverty, and what is said to be a precarious political situation. They have the makings of a sleeping giant if they can support private investment to improve the roads and tea production.

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I would choose Kenya too. Kenya already has very large international market share today. Besides, Kenya has really good tea growing conditions, especially tea plantations of high elevation. With time being, if the land and labor become more expensive in Kenya (as it happens in many other countries), probably they will reduce CTC production and produce more and more high grade tea.

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I would like to say Australia, but I think the climate and terrain doesn’t suit tea production. The only thing we seem to do here is Sencha-style green teas – the two or three that I have tried are really good – and there is one brand, Madura, that produces tea here but it is pretty standard supermarket stuff (mercifully CTC-free).

So I would have to say Nepal if the political situation doesn’t get out of hand and Vietnam.

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I keep hearing more and more about Nepal. I also recently had a really good Indonesian tea.
I would love to see more Korean teas, but with their biggest tea seller not doing international sales, they’ll need to change that if they want to get outside of Korea.

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