Totally Scottish tea
TGS - OUR STORY - A pioneering evolution
TGS is a group of nine farms and rural businesses located throughout Angus, Fife, Perthshire and Aberdeenshire who came together in 2016 with the idea of planting tea as a crop. Some of the group wanted to revive old walled gardens and felt that the micro-climates found in them could be perfect for tea. Finding we were able to get tea seed specially selected for it's cold tolerance from ex soviet Georgia and Nepal in 2016 enabled our project to go ahead. The Community Food fund awarded our group a grant in early 2016 to conduct a feasibility study for growing tea outside in Scotland. The study was conducted by tea consultants Teacraft Ltd. and is now freely available to anyone wishing to grow tea. Feasibility study for tea growing in Scotland >>
Inspiration for the group came from group member Susie Walker-Munro who conducted initial planting trials from tea bushes grown from cuttings in Cornwall, back in 2007. From a small number of bushes protected by polytunnels Susie, with help from tea consultant Beverly-Claire Wainwright, created her first 100% pure Scottish Black Tea "Kinnettles Gold" that was launched onto the market in 2015. This beautiful black tea proved the concept that delicious complex tea could be made in Scotland.
Half an acre of glasshouses were leased and 40,000 cold-hardy tea seeds germinated. Some were for our tea gardens and some for sale throughout UK to help cover the costs of this outlay. We were then awarded a European LEADER grant and in 2017 the seedlings were ready to move outside and planting began in our tea gardens.
Tea consultant Beverly-Claire Wainwright has been conducting a variety of small-scale experiments on leaf picked in our gardens, and has been training our group at her newly built Scottish Tea Factory. TGS has purchased the machinery to enable our teas (and others who wish to use The Scottish Tea Factory out-with our group) to be hand-crafted in small batches by Beverly. Mature tea bushes lend themselves to improved flavour which means that it is going to be a few more years before anything like a commercial quantity of tea will be produced by our group.
OUR TEA PLANTS
Scottish from seed
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 5-6 years from planting to mature into bushes that can withstand the rigours of regular plucking. Tea growing in Scotland is pioneering and requires innovation so throughout this project we have taken professional tea consultancy advice to give us a solid knowledge base. We have also had consultants from Nepal and America visit us, both of whom deal with extreme weather conditions in their own countries and we have been adapting and modifying our new found knowledge to fit our growing profile.
OUR SCOTTISH TEAS
Makers of pure hand-made teas
TGS has a passion for high-quality tea. 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 and Japan to specifically look at and learn from small scale tea makers.
Tea consultant Beverly-Claire Wainwright has been conducting a variety of small-scale experiments on leaf from our gardens, and training our group at her newly built Scottish Tea Factory. TGS has purchased the machinery to enable our teas (and others who wish to use the factory out-with our group) to be made by Beverly, with some of our TGS gardens also doing small amounts of their own hand rolled teas. Mature tea bushes lend themselves to improved flavour which means that it is going to be a few more years before anything like a commercial quantity of tea will be produced by our group.