learning about tea growing, processing and making Food Crime Police

Tea gardens of Scotland funded research


We need consumer understanding and confidence in our tea. This means clear and easily understandable labeling backed by authenticity testing to differentiate genuine Scottish grown tea from imported tea and tea blends. Pervasive examples in the UK are the established brands “Scottish Breakfast Tea” and “Yorkshire Tea”, which do not contain any Scottish or Yorkshire grown tea, despite their labels. If you look closely you will find that they are likely to be labeled “teas imported from India, Kenya or China, packaged in UK”.

To prove a tea is truly grown where it is claimed to have been grown TGS funded research with Dr. David Burslem of the School of Biological Sciences at Aberdeen University and The Scottish Tea Factory to run a pilot study using Ionomics.

Ionomics is a multi-elemental analysis that creates a “chemical fingerprint” and can be used to differentiate teas grown in different locations based on differences in the elemental profile of the soil. For the study, teas from our gardens across Angus, Fife and Perthshire were processed under controlled conditions at the Scottish Tea Factory alongside other Scottish grown teas and 80 teas sourced from around the world. Test results successfully demonstrated that teas grown in Scotland can be clearly distinguished, having a distinct “chemical fingerprint” to teas sourced from overseas.

This exciting discovery paves the way for the development of greater transparency and more accurate labeling of tea in Scotland and around the world. Authenticity testing is extremely relevant for the wider tea industry, a good example being that approximately three times as much Darjeeling tea is sold than is actually produced in Darjeeling. We hope ionomics will lead to more stringent checks and greater reassurance for consumers. A lot of time, effort and research has gone and is going into our TGS project to do this properly. It is very important to us us to protect the integrity of our product and logo.