Camellia for Foliage, Flowers, Fruit & Tea
The FUTURE for TEA
1) It would be unwise to focus only on production for the generation of revenue from a tea enterprise. The connoisseur and the typical tea drinker should be offered a rounded experience. This could be a visitor centre, PYO, tea products, afternoon tea etc. I re-emphasise the need to create special tea from our special climate: that is connoisseur tea thriving in cool conditions and naturally rain irrigated.
2) Tea consumed in the UK at the moment travels an average of 8,120 miles: English tea is certainly one answer to "food miles" critics. With increased consumer awareness of the health benefits of tea there is a probability that awareness of tea's origins will increase. More questions will be asked of conditions prevailing in production regions in terms of the cultivation, workers' conditions, and the overall environment. Brands such as Fairtrade are already embracing such ethos.
3) The UK Tea Council (www.teahealth.co.uk) is exemplary in only supporting health claims for tea after rigorous research has taken place and incontrovertible evidence has been shown. This approach has ensured the Tea Council's development into the world's authoritative voice for factual consumer information regarding tea. Herbal beverages (all non Camellia) are not represented and their often flimsy claims are not passed on. No credence is given to unfounded claims for true teas and deliberate confusion of polyphenols, antioxidants and other key tea qualities is discouraged.
4) A new industry - or an old industry in a new location - often attracts enthusiastic speculation. If establishment is too hurried, however, failure can occur - witness New Zealand's abortive attempt.
5) Branding and packaging near-source is an opportunity for adding value. In Kenya 5% of the tea produced is packaged and 95% exported in bulk. Yet the 5% that is packaged brings in 20% of the total revenue earned from tea export.
6) Green tea is only now being appreciated more fully in the UK with consumption rising to 10% of tea sold. Its main production base is China and often on smallholder scale. The tea we must aim to produce in the UK will be a connoisseur rather than a commodity item. Prevailing weather conditions in Cornwall are eminently suited to the kind of tea worth growing, slow grown and rain irrigated.