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Scottish from seed - Makers of pure hand-made tea

TEA GARDENS OF SCOTLAND

Tap root from tea seed planting tea Tea leaf

Totally Scottish tea

TGS - OUR STORY - A pioneering evolution

We are a group of nine farms and businesses located throughout Angus, Fife and Perthshire who came together in 2016 with the idea of planting tea as a way to diversify. Some of our group wanted to revive some old walled gardens and felt that the micro-climates found in the walled gardens could be perfect for tea. We have since successfully propagated 40,000 cold-hardy tea seedlings. Inspiration for the group came from group member Susie Walker-Munro who conducted initial planting trials way back in 2007. From a small number of bushes successfully growing in polytunnels Susie created her first 100% pure Scottish Black Tea "Kinnettles Gold" that was launched onto the market in 2015. The Community Food fund awarded the group a grant in early 2016 to conduct a feasibility study for tea growing in Scotland. The study was conducted by tea consultants Teacraft Ltd. and is now freely available to anyone wishing to grow tea. View feasibility study for tea growing in Scotland >>

OUR TEA PLANTS

Scottish from seed

Initial trials of growing plants that had been propagated from cuttings outside showed little success therefore this led the group to look into propagation from seed. In early 2016 we planted around 40,000 cold-hardy seeds imported from ex Soviet Georgia and Ilam district in Nepal. Seedling tea has a big advantage over tea grown from cuttings in that it develops a long tap root which makes the plants much stronger. This is an essential requirement in the Scottish climate where growing conditions for tea are marginal compared to any of the other tea growing regions in the world. Tea takes at least 4-5 years from planting to mature into bushes that can withstand the rigours of regular plucking. Tea growing in Scotland is pioneering and requires innovation. We take professional tea consultancy advice to give us a solid knowledge base but are adapting and modifying much of the existing growing knowledge to fit our growing profile. Our future Scottish teas will be truly unique all the way from seed to cup.

OUR SCOTTISH TEAS

Makers of pure hand-made teas

TGS is a diverse group of people who each have their own particular favourite tea and as a result are interested in producing very different teas in the future. We all have one thing in common, a passion for high-quality tea! We plan to process our teas individually at each different garden with great care on an extremely small-scale. To create a truly unique tea it is vital to work with the green leaf and to find the best processing methods to work with our terroir. Learning about different teas is a major part of our strategy. Several group members have already travelled to Sri Lanka to specifically look at and learn from small scale tea makers. Future study trips are being planned to ex Soviet Georgia, Japan and various other renowned tea growing areas. Over the next few years whilst the plants continue to mature, tea consultant Beverly-Claire Wainwright will be conducting a variety of small-scale experiments and teaching the group the basics of different types of tea making. Mature tea bushes lend themselves to improved flavour and finished tea quality which means that it is going to be several years before anything like a commercial quantity of tea will be produced by the group. Susie Walker-Munro will continue to produce just a few kilos of her very special "Kinnettles Gold" hand-made 100% Scottish black tea each year from her mature plants.

If you would like to try some truly special Kinnettles Gold Scottish black tea it is on sale at PekoeTea.

Tea Life

Tea flower green tea seed Tea seed Scottish walled garden tea leaf from tea bush
All about tea Tea making experiments withering tea leaves tea tasting tea varieties

Tea Making in Scotland

This has been and is going to continue to be a fascinating learning process. We have been fortunate in that we have as a group had leaf from Kinnettles farm which is mature and this is the leaf that goes into Kinnettles Gold that is sold by Pekoe Tea in Edinburgh. Mature bushes definitely lend themselves to improved taste and when the tea from seed is planted out into each garden then very small amounts of tea can be made to practice with.

By 2019 we would be able to produce small sample quantities from each garden, but it is a long journey ahead. First plucking begins as early as March and if it is to be made into a black tea then this is taken to wither which simply means laid on racks to allow moisture to remove from the leaf. After the tea has withered it is rolled to break up the cells in the leaf and allow oxygen to get to them - but care is taken in rolling not to tear the leaf - essentially you are rolling to get oils from the tea onto the surface of the leaf.

Then the tea is rested and allowed to oxidise, during which period it is darkening and creating its own heat to ferment, as well as releasing the most lovely scents.

At the right moment it is moved to the ovens, but notes need to be made for each batch so you can check back later if there is any problem - possibly you wither the tea for too long, or you miss the vital point where you should be transferring the tea to the ovens and only by trial and error are the consequences of these mistakes realised.

If making a green tea it is a different process, but still rigorous note keeping is required. This is however what will bring out the very best from our tea grown in our Tea Gardens of Scotland and all be it that we will have such tiny quantities compared to the vast acreages around the world, what we will have is top notes of flavour and we are very excited about this project.