Georgian Red Tea with Tips, “Emperor”
Ruddy Leaf; Steeped, like Oolong, Almost Green.
GEORGIAN TEA: A REVIVAL
Tea is grown in Georgia, the country, not the state. It used to be very important in world production since it supplied primarily the enormous Russian market and then other countries looking for inexpensive tea. These were essentially countries where tea was practically the national beverage. And then everything stopped. On my first trip to Georgia in 2011, no tea was to be found on the market in Tblisi. I asked about it and was told, the plants have been uprooted. No market!
But this was not the case. The Russian market collapsed and growers simply faded away. But now, the old plantations, overcoming the infestations of ferns and other plants, have started to be revived. Plantations which date from 1847 and tea production which dates from 1893, are starting to come back. During Soviet times, Georgia produced about 95% of the tea sold in Russia. In 1985, 152,000 tons of tea were produced. In 2014, 1,800 tons. This comes with both an agricultural and human cost. The best tea is picked by hand, and this labor force was forced to do other things. But things are changing. Tea plantations are being revived.
Georgia is a country facing the Black Sea. At its western end, the environment is almost semi-tropical; splendid for growing tea. Georgia is at the northernmost area for tea growing. Its climate and soil conditions and cultivars make a special combination of flavor- producing conditions that induce a wonderful effect in tea. Most cultivars are crosses of Chinese plants, Camellia sinensis with the Indian cultivar, Camellia assamica, grown from seed. Some of the plantations are up to 70 years of age, with a subtropical, yet cool fall climate and acidic soils. There are no pests, hence no chemical treatments are necessary.
A company, actually a restaurant, called Poliphonia, is now shipping out of Georgia both black and green orthodox tea from these original cultivars labeled as BAEBOS GARAGE TEA. They are worth your tasting. Much less bitter than either China or India teas, their refreshing character is amazing.
In resealable 100g bags. Limited quantities available!