Every tea producing country has location and terroir characteristics that influence plant composition and make its tea taste unique. These distinguishing characteristics have become points of pride for each country. Here are some details that give each country’s tea its own flavor profile.
China’s tea industry has evolved to include the old mixing with the new. Tea originated in China and its old plants are still prized as being the producers of high-quality tea that is coveted and sold domestically. On a national scale, production methods, such as pressing tea, are now being shared between China’s regions; and Chinese teas are now more clearly classified between high end and bulk.
Read more about developments in China’s tea industry, World Tea Expo Country Tour: 7 Things to Know About the China Tea Market.
Japan takes pride in its matcha, which has garnered increasing attention in the United States in the last five years. Tea leaves that will be used for making matcha are shaded during their last month of cultivation. Doing so lowers the rate of photosynthesis and produces high levels of L-theanine, which creates matcha’s distinct full-bodied and less astringent flavor. Shading the tea plants also causes them to produce more chlorophyll and antioxidants because the plant has to work harder to live and grow.
Read more about the current state of Japan’s tea industry, World Tea Expo Country Tour: Matcha Demand Marks Japanese Tea Market.
Most of Kenya’s tea is grown along the equator and in the Great Rift Valley, so the soil quality and sunshine make for a unique flavor profile. The volcanic soil in the Great Rift Valley and the 365 days of sunshine make Kenyan tea rich in taste and nutrients.
In recent years, purple tea emerged in the tea industry as a niche specialty tea. It is grown at high elevations of between 4,500 and 7,500 feet, where cooler temperatures help the tea plants to withstand the strong, direct ultraviolet light that causes the plants to produce higher levels of anthocyanins and polyphenols than those of other teas.
Read more about trends in Kenya’s tea industry, World Tea Expo Country Tour: the Three Ps of Kenyan Tea.
Tea grown in Nepal has distinctive characteristics because of the young plants used and the country’s environmental features. Tea bushes in Nepal are 30 years old on average (younger than tea bushes in other regions) which “creates a vibrancy,” said tea importer Jeni Dodd. Nepal’s terroir is inimitable as it resides at the base of the Himalayan mountains in a pristine environment. Tea farms are irrigated exclusively by runoff from the Himalayan mountains.
Read more about what is happening in Nepal’s tea industry, World Tea Expo Country Tour: Nepal’s Tea Industry Establishes Unique Identity.
Indonesia’s nutrient and mineral rich, volcanic soil produces a tea that is unique in taste. The country resides on the equator in the Pacific Ring of Fire and has 127 active volcanoes. Consistency in temperature, humidity and rainfall produces consistency in quality and quantity throughout the year. Indonesian tea has been described as bright, aromatic and a bit brisk with sweetness, complexity and a clean finish.
Read more about the Indonesian tea industry, World Tea Expo Country Tour: Terroir and Organic Focuses of Indonesian Tea.