Once upon a time… the dream of a tea plantation in Portugal
What happens when two great tea lovers meet? Will it be lots of crazy and bold ideas or will it be realistic? As we both have experience in producing wine and are both convinced that the complex and fascinating world of tea is comparable to that of wine, we began to dream of producing a tea ourselves. Knowing that the tea plant is a species of Camellia and given that we live close to the so-called “land of the Camellias” on the northern Portuguese coast, our dream started to become real.
Sibilia Lind report for Jornal Público:
Investigating a little further, we found historical records about a small tea plantation in the middle of the 19th century, near Ponte de Lima, which had started well. However, tea was never produced as the owner returned to Brazil. Knowing that tea production is very demanding (the plants need to grow at least five years before the first harvest and the actual production of tea involve several processes) made us realise that this is probably the main reason why nobody has successfully grown and produced tea in continental Portugal.
As we like challenges, in 2011, we planted 200 tea plants (Camellia sinensis) in the garden of our house in Porto. From the development of these first plants, we realised that the weather conditions are very suitable and this gave us the confidence to continue. So, in 2014, we decided to change our plans and moved the plants near to Vila do Conde.
Step by step, we are significantly increasing their numbers.
Our aim is to produce a high quality green tea and being very aware that the tea production is a very complex process, we consulted with green tea producers in Japan. While we fully acknowledge that there are many wonderful teas from several countries round the world, we believe the Japanese green tea is the most complex of all teas.
In 2012, our main tea producers from Japan, the Morimotos visited us for the first time and not only did they fall in love with Portugal, but also embraced our Camellia project. Haruyo san and Shigeru Morimoto have over 40 years of experience and help us greatly with their expertise in the cultivation and production of tea. It will take some time before we have our own green tea, but right now we want to share good quality tea with people. Thus, we began to distribute organic green teas from the Morimotos and other small Japanese family farmers and conduct tastings and workshops.
At the same time, we contacted Portuguese producers of herbal teas and started making blends of Japanese green tea with a Portuguese touch. Thus, bringing together East and West and creating more interest in this fascinating world of tea.