Tea grown in Britain? Yes! Britain does grow (some of) its own tea. Since the early 2000s, Brits have enjoyed a “cuppa” from tea grown right in their midst.
After water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world, yet it is the British who have cultivated the image of being the consummate tea drinkers. It’s a bit of an oddity, given the fact that the Camellia sinensis and Camellia assamica, or the small leaf and broad leaf varieties respectively, are grown primarily in South and East Asian countries, and not in Great Britain … until now.
The Tregothnan Estate, situated in the fertile countryside of Cornwall between the Truro and Fal Rivers, has been the private estate of the Boscawen family since the 14th century. Over time, the family earned a reputation for cultivating rare and exotic flora on their vast holdings, and by the turn of the 19th century, acquired outdoor ornamental Camellias plants, becoming the first in Britain to do so.
The Camellias’ success over the past two centuries is due in part to the subtropical microclimate created by the plantation’s location near the southwestern coast of Britain, about eight miles inland, which generates a warm and humid climate perfect for growing tea bushes. Moreover, the soil is acidic, and the landscape is hilly; the name Tregothnan means “the house at the head of the valley.”
Now, Tregothnan produces a Single Estate tea made exclusively with leaves from the plantation’s bushes. In addition, the estate creates timeless blends such as Earl Grey and Afternoon teas, plus several purpose-created bespoke blends, using both the estate and imported tea leaves.
Because of their unique relationship with tea, Tregothnan goes beyond purveyor and offers the public several classes to expand their appreciation of both the plant and the beverage. It even hosts a tea master class with a local expert in all things tea. You’ll learn whether or not to extend the little finger while sipping your drink (hint: not a good idea).
In addition to the tea bushes, Tregothnan maintains what is considered the largest private botanical garden in Great Britain, showcasing exotic plants from around the world. The gardens are open periodically throughout the year for private viewing and charitable events.