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What Countries Grow the Most Tea?

Updated on November 4, 2007

"I wouldn't do that for all the tea in China!"

How many times have you heard that expression? A couple of hundred years ago, China was considered the exporters of the world's finest teas. All the tea in China would make you very rich, indeed. But now, you better not hold out for all the tea in China. The countries that grow the most tea, that is, the green and black strains of the tea plant Camellia sinensis, according to Agritrade are as follows:

6. Indonesia

5. Turkey

4. Sri Lanka (which used to be called Ceylon - sound familiar?)

3. Kenya

2. China

1. India

Yes, India is now the number one producer of tea in the world. On average, India grows a quarter of the tea for the entire world of tea drinkers. In fact, the demand for Indian tea is so strong, it is mostly all exported. India often has to import tea from Indonesia in order to give Indians their much deserved tea. Assam tea is the main tea used in the bags you find in the grocery store.

What Do You Need To Grow Tea?

The tea plant is a fickle plant. You just can't stick a bush in the back garden and hope for the best. As you can tell from the countries most successful in growing tea, you need a hot, humid, tropical climate. It needs acidic soil and about an average of 50 inches of rain a year. For some reason, tea plantations never caught on in the American south, and South America concentrates on coffee and chocolate. And what about England, a nation known for its devotion to the cuppa? They loved tea so much that they made all of their colonies grow them. It has a grand total of one tea plantation, Tregothnan Estate in Kent and Cornwall, which was founded only during this century.

A tea bush can take a few years in order to mature enough to give flavorful leaves. This depends on where it is growing. Tea grown in elevations up to 5,000 feet take longer to grow, but give off rich flavor. Usually, the tea bush will grow into a sizeable tree, but is usually pruned for ease of harvesting and to encourage a more than usual growth of leaves. Only the top one or two inches of tea (the flushes) are harvested. The flush grows back about every 10 days during the harvesting season.

Teas are then blended from different plantations and different strains in order to get the desired taste. Chances are, the cup your drinking now came from several places in the world. Each leaf was treated like the liquid gold it is, making affordable ambrosia.

This man makes me thirsty :-)

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