Tea From Europe
Tea was first discovered in China around 5,000 years ago. As European explorers began to explore the Orient, information about tea began to filter back to Europe. In 1560 the first European to write firsthand about tea was the Portuguese Jesuit Father Jasper de Cruz.
It was not until 1610 that tea gained a presence in Europe, by that time, sea trade routes to the Far East were firmly established, mainly through the efforts of the Portuguese through their possessions in Asia, and the Dutch through the Dutch East India Company.
The Portuguese introduced tea to the Dutch, and through trade, the Dutch brought the tea to France, Holland and the Baltic countries. In 1662, Catherine Braganza of Portugal married King Charles II and brought tea to the royal court of England for the first time. Still, much of the earliest days of European tea, was far too expensive at $100 a pound, to gain favor with anyone but the rich.
In 1750 the initial trials of tea occurred on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores, off the coast of Portugal. Producing very little tea (10 kg of Black and 8 kg of Green Tea). In 1801 the Governor-General of the Azores sent to mainland Portugal two cases of tea plants, noting that it grew in abundance in the Azores, however implementing commercial cultivation was still difficult. While residing in Brazil in 1808 the King of Portugal Joao VI received as a gift tea plants from the Emperor of China, which he had planted in Rio de Janeiro, and fine botanical gardens all over Brazil.
Portuguese born Jacinto Leite in 1820 returning to the Azores from Brazil, brought back with him seeds which were disbursed all over the northern regions of Sao Miguel for the purpose of commercial tea production. Encouraged by the founder of the Promotional Society of Micaelense Agriculture -Jose do Canto, in September 1874 two tea experts arrived from then Portuguese Macau and introduced the art of commercial tea cultivation, with the first tea being produced and sold in 1883 under the family compound of Gorreana.
Founded by the Gago da Camara family, Gorreana's tea estate is the only remaining of the 14 original tea producing estates and has remained family owned and operated for 5 generations. Black and green teas are still produced using ancient techniques that have been passed down at Gorreana for over a century.
Sign Up For Our Newsletter