Back in 2015, as we searched for sustainable ways to diversify farmland in the Island and rest land from the more typical crop of potatoes, we were captivated by a radio feature about tea production. With the island already having a long history of blending imported tea, dating back to the 1870’s could the lush fields of Jersey actually give rise to a new chapter in its tea legacy? Contrary to the association with tropical climates, Camellia sinensis tea bushes actually thrive growing slowly in cooler conditions, resulting in a refined and flavorful tea.
The potential for our Jersey climate to yield high-quality tea fascinated us, prompting lots of research and experiments. We were convinced of the merits of three sheltered microclimates and after preparing fields in the winter of 2016/17 we began planting in 2017. After cultivating in excess of 15 vergées of land (over six acres) the gardens have matured and are flourishing. Fast forward a few years and after gaining insights from our various experiments, our tea plants are well-established, and we have identified the best processing techniques for our Jersey tea leaves.
In November 2020, Jersey Fine Tea proudly introduced the first small batches of whole-leaf black, green, and white tea, each showcasing complexity and rich expression. Having allowed the plants to mature over the last couple of years and honing our processing techniques, we are forging ahead with great plans for the future.
As well as our tea gardens, Jersey Fine Tea has a very keen interest in conservation and enhancing spaces for our local biodiversity – we manage land specifically catering for the needs of our varied wildlife and this works hand in hand with our tea growing. Hedges have been laid in the traditional manner to provide not only shelter belt for the gardens, but also habitat for small mammals, invertebrates and birds. Our young shelter hedges combine a carefully selected range of species-rich plants that provide commuting and foraging opportunities for bats, birds and our local red squirrels.
We look forward to sharing our endeavours as our project moves forwards and sharing our teas with you.
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