the original kStyle blog.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Story About Tea

The tea plant, camellia sinensis, was brought to the Azores from Brazil in the mid-1700s. Tea, and other camellias, were planted for their bright flowers and glossy, deep green foliage, with no thought of producing anything drinkable from them.

At the time, Sao Miguel was famous for its oranges. England--especially Victorian England--could not get enough "Saint Michael Oranges". They loved 'em.

Then, a blight destroyed the island's orange production in the mid 19th century. Sao Miguel needed to diversify its agriculture. The locals began planting pineapple and raising cows for meat and milk. And the clever Micalenses brought in two Chinese men from the Portuguese colony of Macau to teach them the art of making tea.

A new industry was born. At its height, 14 factories made tea in Sao Miguel. Today, two remain, and they produce their tea the old way, without any chemical treatment.

In these photos, the neat rows of short, round plants are tea. This is a small planting behind the Porto Formoso Tea Factory. Elsewhere, just a bit down the road, whole hills are planted with tea.


Blogger Narya said...

How did the tea taste? Was it good? what kinds do they grow/produce? (Being a tea junkie and all, I gotta know.)

11:33 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

So glad you asked, one tea junkie to another!

The tea is very good, more delicate than most.

The Porto Formoso factory produces orange pekoe, pekoe, and broken leaf tea. These all come from the same leaves, but they're sorted by size. Smallest and most delicate become orange pekoe, medium become pekoe, and the broken leaf is made from coarser, larger leaves. We didn't try the broken leaf, but it's supposedly more robust.

The other remaining fabrica de cha, Gorreana, also makes green teas. We didn't visit them. Maybe next time.

7:29 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home