tea growing areas in europe
tee/camellia sinensis is a plant of the humid, warm tropics and subtropics. if you live in germany you can buy a lot of teas, but teagardens are only far away in china, india or "ceylon" - that's the way you think. but there are also smaller growing areas in europe:
1. in switzerland
2. in southern england
3. on the azores
in addition there are projects by hobby gardeners who cultivate tea bushes in europe.
update: meanwhile there are a number of other smaller tea gardens in europe, for example in scotland, spain, france and portugal. in germany there is also the tea garden tschanara near cologne. an interview with the operators wolfgang bucher and haeng ok can be read here: germany's unique tea garden: tschanara
a small european tea cultivation area is that in switzerland on the monte verità. as this mountain has a very interesting history behind it, the more detailed history is briefly presented here. it's worth it to deal with this place for a while.
location and clima:
the hill is situated west of ascona, close to the lago maggiore, not far from italy, on the southern side of the swiss alps, where the climate in the lower regions is almost mediterranean. ascona is the lowest situated city of switzerland, and the brissagoo islands, located about 3 km away in the lago maggiore, have the mildest, almost always frost-free climate of switzerland. in the botanical garden on the main island "grande isola" oppliger started cultivating tea plants on a small scale in 2003.
due to its mild winter location, the monte verità is therefore perfectly suitable for tea growing, which one would not necessarily have thought spontaneously.
the more recent history of the mountain before tea growing:
the mountain was originally called monte monescia. after his purchase by the factory owner's son henri oedenkoven (1875-1935) and his later wife ida hofmann (1864-1926) in 1900, he was renamed monte verità, which means "mountain of truth". a colony of the then subculture developed, which had similarities with the hippie movement of the 1960s and 70s. artists, drop-outs, better people, vegetarians, anarchists and many other nonconformist people lived there for a while their unusual lives. in ascona he was called "mountain of fools" because of the unusual people.
also many celebrities of the time found their way to the mountain of truth, including hermann hesse.
in 2006 the chemist/druggist and specialist for naturopathy peter oppliger (born 1940) founded in the special microclimate of the monte verità a tea garden with about 1,000 tea plants. the tea is harvested and processed by specialists who come from japan every spring. peter oppliger works closely with the japanese tea producer HAMASAEN from shizuoka. attached to the tea garden is the "casa del tè" with tea room and the "laboratorio", where the harvested tea leaves are processed.
update: peter oppliger has meanwhile retired. the casa del tè with its teagarden was taken over by the swiss tea merchants katrin and gerhard lang in 2016.
how far it's all really authentic tea production, it's hard to judge from here, but a tourist magnet is the teagarden on the monte verità without any doubt.
but he is certainly not, as claimed, the most northern teagarden in europe.
many thx to elke salzer for the photos of the monte verità!