Tea and Wine: beverages with a lot in common

When you stop and think about it, tea and wine have many similarities. They are both popular beverages carefully produced from their respective crops. Grapes and tea are grown around the world, but their location, soil, local weather conditions and the skill of the maker help to create unique versions of the same drink. And they both have meaningful rituals surrounding how we drink them. Think about tea ceremonies in Japan or popping the cork on a bottle of Champagne at a wedding.

Here we explore the ways Nerada black tea is like a fine estate-grown wine. From the way it is grown, to how it tastes, they really do have much in common.

Tea Plantation vs Vineyard

Both tea and grapes are grown at the mercy of mother nature and this can have a major impact on yields from year to year. We’ve seen it firsthand at our Malanda plantation over the last 12 months, with frosts, cyclones and inclement weather patterns meaning that our yields are down almost a third on previous years! Just like other farmers, including grape growers, across our great nation, it’s a reminder that we are an agricultural producer.

Tea growers and viticulturists do everything possible to nurture our crops – Camelia sinensis for tea and Vitis vinifera in the case of wine – but ultimately there is only so much you can do to control adverse forces. Drought can devastate a tea plantation just as it can a vineyard. The same goes with hail, flooding or a heatwave.

Like wine, you could say a good cup of tea starts in the plantation. Quality tea leaves produce superior cups of tea, which is why we take such good care of our Malanda plantation. Our tea is grown without pesticides, to ensure you are getting the best. It’s part of the reason why we’ve been awarded Rainforest Alliance Certification.

Tea and Terroir

Just like wine, the flavour of a tea is impacted by where it grows and the set of unique environmental factors that the tea plant was exposed to. This is what the French call ‘terroir’. The term is most commonly used in relation to wine, but it can also apply to tea. The climate, soil and high elevation of our Malanda tea plantation influences how our tea tastes and these conditions can’t be replicated. That is why our Nerada tea tastes unlike any other in the world. Its unique flavours are a result of these environmental factors. Just as a shiraz from the Barossa Valley, has certain trademark flavours that let an experienced taster know where it is from, so does tea.

Tea Makers and Winemakers

It’s not just the weather that influences tea and wine, the plantation manager and winemaker have a big impact on how the finished product turns out. The plantation manager decides when to harvest the tea bushes to make sure you are getting the best possible cup of Nerada tea, just as a winemaker will taste the grapes to see if they have reached optimum ripeness and should be picked. The skill of the tea maker who sorts and blends the tea leaves after processing also plays an important role, just as a winemaker does when deciding to blend different grape varieties together to make the finished wine.

The Taste of Tea and Wine

The similarities don’t end with how tea and wine are made. How these beverages taste have things in common, too. Take tannins, for instance. Both tea, red wine and some white wines contain tannin. Tannins give tea its astringency. High levels of tannin make a tea taste bitter. Nerada black tea, for instance, has a strong flavour but no bitterness. The tannins are not front and centre. In wine, tannins cause that mouth-drying sensation and provide structure in a wine that will allow it to age.

You may find blackcurrant, smoky, green or juicy hints in your tea, and we’re not talking about added flavours here. These same flavours can be found in wine. A young wine is often described as tasting green, whereas blackcurrant notes are a defining feature of cabernet sauvignon, for example.

Rituals Associated with Tea and Wine

Nerada black tea and wine are both made to be savoured and enjoyed. Drinking your tea from a fine bone china cup poured from a lovely teapot that once belonged to your grandmother makes it even more special. It’s the same when you use your best varietal specific glasses to indulge in some wine. The rituals surrounding drinking tea and wine add to the experience and the pleasure.

For both beverages, it’s about taking time out and relaxing. They also seem to have the remarkable ability to conjure up old stories as you sip them. We find people often have fond memories of Nerada from childhood. A case in point is our Sales Manager Brenden Minehan who vividly remembers his mum making a pot of Nerada tea first thing every morning when he was a child.

Sharing a pot of tea or savouring a glass wine seems to have a magical ability to make conversation flow and tensions fall away. It seems that tea and wine transcend the liquid in your cup, or glass, as the case may be.

So next time you’re sitting there enjoying a cup of Nerada pesticide-free black tea consider the similarities that your favourite beverage has with fine wine, and perhaps think about supporting other local producers who work tirelessly to hone their craft to bring you Australia’s finest. Both drinks ultimately come from the land and a lot of hard work goes into producing a quality tea or wine, as well as some good luck with the weather.