Tea is the most popular drink in the world, second only to water. However, until the 17th century, tea production was limited to just a few countries and China was pretty much a monopoly until European empires began setting up plantations in their colonies.
Here are the top 10 tea producing regions that make it possible for tea to fuel the world.
The tea industry in Bangladesh provides employment to over 300,000 people in 150+ plantations. The industry has been on the rise in recent years, and the quality of tea from Bangladesh is earning a reputation that is likely to bring those numbers up. At present, the country grows over 80,000 tonnes of tea.
Tea production in Iran began after the first mayor of Tehran managed to smuggle back some tea seeds from India towards the end of the 19th century. He planted them in the region of Gilan, where Iran’s tea production began. Today there are nearly 80,000 acres of tea plantations in Iran.
Another former British colony, Myanmar grows a lot of its tea along the border they share with China, with newly laid down organic practices. The country grows over 100,000 tonnes of tea every year.
The production of tea in Indonesia is primarily for export purposes and is mostly used to create tea blends. Tea was initially industrialized in the country when it was under Dutch rule, but the Indonesians did not develop a taste for the beverage and the 140,000 tonnes of tea they grow is mostly for commercial purposes.
Though it is famous for its coffee, Turkey’s tea culture is actually just as strong. Most of the 230,000+ tonnes of tea in the country is black tea, grown in a small region near the Black Sea, where the conditions are ideal for tea production.
Tea was first grown here on a large scale in 1880, when the French had created a plantation. After a while though, the tea industry declined, with just a few indigenous specialty teas being made in the country. The industry got a kickstart a hundred years later in the 1980s and in the present day, it grows 260,000 tonnes of tea.
4. Sri Lanka
The British set up plantations in the country in the 1860’s and began exporting Ceylon tea, which became famous the world over. One of the accelerators for the reputation of Ceylon tea was that it caught the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes series. The island grows nearly 350,000 tonnes of tea annually.
Home to one of the most innovative tea industries in the world, Kenya produces 400,000+ tonnes of tea annually, using innovative technology to create new varieties that grow faster and more easily. The majority of the tea produced in Kenya is grown on small farms that are less than 1 acre in size, making it a hub for artisan teas with a unique flavour.
The tea plantations and industry set up by the British during their rule, continue to thrive in India. This makes it the 2nd largest producer of tea in the world by a huge margin of 800,000 tonnes. Assam and Darjeeling tea are some of the most popular tea varieties in the world. Indians love their tea, which is why, out of the 1,325,000 tonnes produced in the country, around 70% is consumed domestically.
Responsible for around 1/3rd of the total tea production in the world, China has been, for centuries, the largest producer of tea in the world. Tea has reportedly been consumed in China as both medicine and a recreational drink for nearly 5000 years now, and takes on an important part in Chinese rituals and beliefs. The Chinese produce nearly 2,500,000 tonnes of tea annually in a multitude of different varieties.