The Azores, which belong to Portugal, are about 1400 km away from their home country, far away "somewhere" in the Atlantic Ocean. This isolation, at least in the past, gave them the secondary name "the forgotten islands". The archipelago consists of nine major islands. All of them are volcanic in origin except one (Santa Maria). Sao Miguel is the main island and only here tea is grown.
Location and climate
The location of the Azores, Sao Miguel:
The temperature in summer rarely exceeds 25°C, in winter it always remains frost-free with at least 10°C. Moreover, it rains relatively often. This are good conditions for the cultivation of tea, supplemented by volcanic, mineral-rich soils.
Tea growing on the Azores
There are different reports about the beginning of tea cultivation on the forgotten islands. Some write from the 1750s, others from the 1800s. The two statements have in common that only very small quantities of tea were harvested.
It is documented that 1820 tea seeds were introduced by the Portuguese "Jacinto Leite" and were planted on the north coast of Sao Miguel.
From the 1870s onwards, there was a search for the replacement of the orange trees, which were often affected by fungal infestation, and the cultivation of tea was systematically promoted. Two Chinese from the then Portuguese colony of Macao helped with the cultivation, harvesting and processing of tea, and were involved in building up a commercial tea cultivation..
In the bloom of tea growing, there was a large number of tea producing companies, and for a long time tea growing was the main source of income on the Azores. In 1960, around 300 tons of tea were produced. Over time, however, more and more tea from the then Portuguese colony of Mozambique entered the Portuguese market duty-free, and so the cultivation of tea slowly came to a complete standstill until "Cha Gorreana" was the last remaining teagarden.
The second, reopened tea garden is "Cha Porto Formoso". Both estates are only a few kilometres apart. Most of the tea produced on the Azores is also drunk there (~80%). The rest goes to North America (migrant communities), Germany and Austria. On the Portuguese mainland, tea from the Azores is rarely found. Lipton has meanwhile become one of the most important providers here.
The tea garden has been in existence since 1883, and the current owner Hermano Mota and his family run the tea garden in the 5th generation. But even though Mr Mota is mostly mentioned first, it is his wife Margarida Hintze-Mota and her family, who work in the fifth generation on Cha Gorreana. Mr. Mota is married into this family.
About 40 tons of black and green tea are produced per year. According to the Estate, chemical pesticides are not used, but this is not purely organic tea, as artificial fertilizers are used from time to time.
After harvesting, the tea is processed into black tea with the help of very old english machines. You feel a little like you're in a tea museum. The tea is then packed by hand and ready for sale. The tea garden is an important employer for the people of the neighbourhood. The charm of the old-fashioned production also attracts tourists, which is undoubtedly a factor that should also play a role.
Cha Gorreana offers different quality levels of black tea:
-Moinha (finer Broken Leaf)
There are two quality levels for green tea:
-Encosta de Bruma
You can visit Cha Gorreana.
The Homepage of the teagarden.
Cha Porto Formoso
The second tea garden, which is much smaller and more suitable for tourist visits, is "Cha Porto Formoso". It was initially closed in 1980, but from 1998 onwards the new owners began to rebuild the property. The EU is providing financial support for tea production on Cha Porto Formoso, and tea has been produced again since 2000. However, at around 4 tonnes per year, the quantity is quite small and is only sold on the Azores.
It is produced exclusively black tea in the quality levels already known from Cha Gorreana.
You can also visit Cha Porto Formoso. The small teagarden does not have a working website yet.
The Azores are interesting, and the teas produced here have a certain cult status. Especially the black teas are recommended for tea lovers.
Meanwhile tea is also grown in a small tea garden on the Portuguese mainland.