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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tea Factory and Plantation - Gorreana Tea

Tea, now enjoyed daily by millions of people throughout the world, is one of the oldest beverages in civilization. It was first used as a drink around the third century BC.

See Many legends surround the discovery of this soothing potion. It certainly was used in religious rites, rituals, and as a medicine (my grandma thought it was the cure for everything).

Native to China, it was prepared according to the period. The Tang Dynasty (620-907) boiled it, the Song Dynasty (960-1276) whisked it, and the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) infused it. By the fourteenth century, Japan began cultivating it and using it in many tea rituals, as they continue to do today.

In the 1800s, tea bushes were brought from Portuguese Macao to the Island of the Azores. In 1878, two skilled tea masters, Lau-A- Pan and Lau-A Teng, arrived in São Miguel to oversee production, and the bushes thrived. Gorreana was established in 1883.

As I approached the property, I passed rows and rows of well-trimmed bushes. Terraces of green sparkled in the sunlight, making for a picturesque pastoral scene.

Gorreana produces only green and black tea (Orange Pekoe) using age-old methods. Despite this being a popular tourist stop, I had the place to myself. Because I arrived around lunchtime, the machinery was idle. I would have liked to see the antiquated machines in operation. One machine had a beautiful copper plate, proclaiming that the British India Tea Company made it in the 1800s.

No one spoke English, but a tour guide is available by appointment. I just wandered around and found the whole place fascinating. The pungent odor of the plants was not unpleasant. At the end of the tour (arrows on the wall point the directions step-by-step), we sat and helped ourselves to tea and cookies.
The tea was good, despite it not being in a china cup. I bought a few boxes of tea from the little kiosk. Workers were milling around -- happy, smiling people who seemed content in their work. I did note that the majority of the workers were women. There is no charge for the tour, and from the testimonials pasted across the kiosk, this place is a popular tourist spot.


Anonymous said...

Thank You so much for the information. I loved my trip to the azores. The Gorreana Tea Estate was so beautiful. I loved the factory and the views of exotic flowers and amazing miles and miles of perfect tea rows. I hope to make another trip to Sao Miguel soon. Im so glad Gorreana Teas are now available here in the USA. Check out their site for more pics of the tea.

Jeff said...

Your right it is the most amazing place to visit. Very peaceful. When I was there in 94 and again in 2008 from what I remember and my pictures they served tea free in the museum portion of the factory in porcelain tea cups..maybe things changed to reguler tea cups..porcelain adds a nice flavor to the tea. I love how from the tea room, they have amazing ocean and hills views that glimmer with emerald green tea fields..this is a very special place for sure. I cant wait to introduce my kids to the azores islands and tour the gorreana estate! thanks for posting this

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