International Tea Day: Where does your favourite tea come from?

May 21 is International Tea Day! A day to celebrate and reflect on the origins of this humble beverage. A cup of tea for many people is not just a drink, but a daily ritual, so it is no surprise that tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world behind water. Demand is not looking to slow anytime soon either. According to recent reports the world production of black tea is projected to rise annually by 2.2% over the next decade to reach 4.4 million tonnes in 2027.

Given the volume and range of different teas now available in the supermarket, you may be tempted to stick to what you know. It can certainly be confusing to decipher where some teas come from and what the name actually means. If you have a soft spot for English Breakfast or Australian Afternoon tea, you may actually be surprised to discover that neither of them are grown in their namesake country. It becomes even more complicated when you add in phrases like Melbourne or Sydney breakfast, which can be found on the packaging of many of the international tea brands. None of these teas are actually sourced from Australia. In fact, Nerada is one of the only Australian grown and produced black, pesticide-free teas. It almost seems deceptive to have such terminology on the packaging!

Where does your favourite blend come from?

We give a rundown on where some renowned blends are likely to have come from and what makes them distinctive.

  • English Breakfast: generally, a blend of Assam, Sri Lankan and Kenyan teas. It is a robust, strong blend that goes well with milk and sugar, and also with a ‘full English’ breakfast that traditionally includes eggs, bacon and sausages.
  • Irish Breakfast: more robust and stronger than English Breakfast, it’s primarily made with Assam and Kenyan CTC teas (teas made by the cut, tear, curl method). Drink it with milk.
  • Australian Breakfast: made primarily with Chinese and Indian teas. It has a slightly smoky flavour.
  • Scottish Breakfast: probably the strongest of all the blends, this is made with Chinese, Assam and Kenyan teas.

There are no set formulations for these tea types, so blends and tastes are likely to differ from brand to brand. The one thing they are likely to have in common is that they have travelled a great distance before steeping in your teapot or cup.

What’s in a name?

It is not always simple to discover where some teas originate. It is thought that Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey of England (and British Prime Minister in the 1830s) is responsible for the creation of Earl Grey tea. It’s believed that he was gifted a blend of black tea with Italian bergamot oil, by a Chinese tea master, as a thank you for saving his son from drowning. In recent years the truth of this story has been questioned and it may be more likely that the tea was created to honour a man in power, rather than a hero. Whatever the story, we’re grateful for this aromatic drop.

Coming closer to our own shores, the former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd once won a tea blending competition to create an Australian Afternoon tea. The resulting mix of slightly smoky Russian Caravan tea and full-bodied Irish combination of flavours is made up of tea leaves that come from all over the world, but sadly not from Australia.

Australian grown tea

Nerada is proud to be different. As the largest producer of Australian grown tea, we produce more than 1.5 million kilos of black tea per year. The time it takes for the tea to get from crop to cup can be as little as a few weeks, making Nerada Australia’s freshest tea.

Our black teas are grown on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. This includes the black tea range that many Australians know and love (tea bag and loose leaf), but we also have some smaller bespoke teas which are also Australian, including our Earl Grey, Australian Tea with Lemon Myrtle and Royal Devonshire tea.

Whatever your tea tipple of choice, celebrate International Tea Day with a steaming cup of your favourite tea. Whether you take yours with or without milk, tea bag or loose leaf, take the opportuni-tea to put the kettle on and relax with your favourite brew! And next time you pour your favourite cuppa, perhaps it’s time to think about where the tea is actually coming from?

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