9 most important tea producing countries on the planet

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

To love tea, you don't have to go deep into the history of the tea industry. But it will not be superfluous to have an idea of ​​the features of tea varieties and the specifics of their cultivation. There are many countries in the world in whose economy a significant share is devoted to the tea industry, but only a few of them can boast of influence on the global market. Further – about the real monsters in the world of tea (the article contains average figures showing the level of tea production as of 2018/2019).

The giants of the tea world: the top 9 most significant producers on the planet

Nomination a place Country Quantity of product produced (annual rate)
9 most important tea producers on the planet 9 Japan 80,000 tons
8 Argentina 90,000 tons
7 Indonesia 150,000 tons
6 Vietnam 260,000 tons
5 Turkey 295,000 tons
5 Sri Lanka 349,700 tons
3 Kenya 470,000 tons
2 India 1,250,000 tons
1 China 2,400,000 tons

Japan

Rating: 4.2

Japan

Amount of product produced (annual rate): 80,000 tons

Three of the four largest Japanese islands were created to grow quality tea – the climatic features of the region make it possible to produce an excellent plant for making delicious tea. It is noteworthy that Japan is included in the rating of the tea giants of the world, despite or despite one fact: the inhabitants of the country of the Rising Sun are so fond of a fragrant and healthy drink that only 2% of the product produced is exported.

Of course, when they talk about Japanese tea, they mean exclusively green: about 99.9% of all tea grown in the country falls on all sorts of green tea. Bantia is among the permanent favorites; Sencha, Hodzichya, etc. are also popular.

Interesting fact. The most delicious and high-quality green tea in the world is produced only by 2 states – Japan and China. Everything else (in particular, talking about their direct competitors – India and Sri Lanka) is significantly inferior to him in quality.

Taste characteristics: sencha – base tea with a rich taste (no astringency) and fresh aroma; gekuro – the taste can be varied (it all depends on the place of growth); matcha – rich, bright taste, etc.

Argentina

Rating: 4.3

Argentina

Quantity of product produced (annual rate): 90,000 tons

Mate is a traditional herbal broth with an original aroma and an unforgettable taste – a visiting card of Argentina. By the way, this drink is incredibly popular among the inhabitants of the country themselves. But Argentina became known to the whole world not only because of the mat.

Even some 100 years ago, nothing was known about South American tea and its production was almost zero. It was only in 1920 that seeds were brought into the country, suitable for growing ideal tea for the needs of the world's tea drink consumers, China and Russia.

The tea industry in Argentina developed at a very slow pace. The government of the country played an important role in this: the imposition of a ban on tea imports and a significant decrease in the price of the product in the 50s led to the fact that Argentine tea was forgotten for a long time. And yet, in fact, ideal conditions for growing a valuable plant did not allow the country to disappear into oblivion: a variety of climatic features and excellent soil contributed to Argentina's entry into the world arena.

The predominant part of the product, grown in a subtropical South American country, is represented by varieties of black tea, which is obtained as an almost standard hybrid of Indian and Assamese.

Taste characteristics: black – unobtrusive, pleasant taste and light aroma; mate – herbal, reminiscent of green tea.

Indonesia

Rating: 4.4

Indonesia

Quantity of product produced (annual rate): 150,000 tons

Thanks to the subtropical humid climate, unique volcanic soil and the abundance of gentle warm sun, black tea grown in the Indonesian vastness has unusual taste characteristics. It was they who allowed the country from an unknown outsider in the tea world (which it was until 1929) to become one of the leaders: at one time the world community enthusiastically accepted Assamese hybrids grown on Indonesian soil.

Interesting fact. The oldest and largest tea factory, based on one of the main islands of the country (Sumatra), is the manufacturer of the most famous tea in Indonesia. Until the country declared independence in 1945, the factory was owned by the Dutch. After it was nationalized and to this day it is under state control.

Taste features: full-bodied, full-bodied, ideal for breakfast. It goes well with milk.

Vietnam

Rating: 4.5

Vietnam

Amount of product produced (annual rate): 260,000 tons

The birth of the tea industry in Vietnam dates back to 1880: it was then that the first (French-owned) tea plantation was built in Phu Tho. The development of the industry was quite rapid, and already half a century later, Vietnamese tea, along with Ceylon and Chinese, pleased the inhabitants of Europe and distant African expanses with the original taste.

Unfortunately, the war unleashed by the United States has made adjustments to the production of plants for the tea drink. It wasn't until 1980 that the industry began to gradually recover. Today the tea industry in Vietnam is represented by both large companies that occupy a significant niche in the world market due to the reference quality of the products supplied, and modest individual entrepreneurs. The latter, by the way, carry out the production of the product in small quantities, the harvest is carried out exclusively by hand.

About 2/3 of the plants grown in Vietnam are black varieties. Almost 1/3 more are of excellent quality green tea. And only about 5% of the total tea product produced is made up of special, very expensive varieties. Among them is kudin – a drink for special connoisseurs of the drink. Has a bitter taste, is considered very useful (has antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic effects).

Taste characteristics: black Vietnamese tea has a rich, tart taste (by the way, too strong a brewed Vietnamese tea can cause a headache). Green tea has a delicate, sweet aroma. Artichoke tea has a sweet taste, reminiscent of berry compote.

Turkey

Rating: 4.6

Turkey

Amount of product produced (annual rate): 295,000 tons

It's hard to believe, but a small region provides a powerful quantitative indicator of Turkish production – it is located near the city of Rize in the north-east of the country. It is here that the conditions are as close as possible to ideal for growing excellent black tea varieties: a humid, mild climate and proximity to the sea. Although Turkey produces exclusively black tea (often referred to as Turkish), this was enough to compete for leadership with the world's giants of the tea industry.

Turks, by the way, are themselves great connoisseurs of their own tea, which they like to brew in a very non-trivial way: according to tradition, it is placed in a special samovar, where it is brewed incredibly concentrated, and then diluted with water just before serving.

Interesting fact. When ordering tea in Turkey, it is always important to clarify which strength you prefer in the drink. The ideal option for many is a dark-colored drink, a reddish hue is often called 'hare blood'. But the amount of sugar and the need for it are never specified: tea is always served with 2 pieces of sugar on a saucer.

The Turkish tea market has its own peculiarity, and it does not lie in its powerful production turnover (which cannot be denied). The capacity of the national industry is also supported by a 'modest' import tariff for foreign products. It is no less than 145%.

Taste characteristics: rich, fairly strong taste with an original aroma.

Sri Lanka

Rating: 4.7

Sri Lanka

Amount of product produced (annual rate): 349,700 tons

It is not surprising that a hot tropical country saturated with oriental spices and incense is included in the rating of leaders in tea production. For many years, Sri Lanka has been a constant member of the three world giants in the tea industry. The situation changed dramatically after 2017, when the country suffered a terrible drought, followed by a flood. Contaminated soil and intensified erosion processes aggravated the problem.

After that, the country's share in world exports fell from 21 to 6%, and Kenya had to give up its already customary 3rd place. Will the situation change for the better? Who knows. We can only hope so. Sri Lanka has every opportunity to increase the growth of product yields, its quality, etc. The problem is that there are not sufficient human and land resources for this. In addition, the younger generations are not particularly enthusiastic about handicraft on the tea plantation (the famous Ceylon tea is harvested this way – by hand).

Interesting fact. Before the arrival of the British, tea was not grown in Sri Lanka. Everything changed after the British brought the first tea bushes to the island.

Taste characteristics: depend on the variety of Ceylon tea, of which there are many. Among the main ones – Pekoe – a weak tea with a delicate taste; Orange Pekoe – mild flavor and aroma; BP1 Broken Pekoe 1 – strong tea with a pronounced taste; BOP1 Broken Orange Pekoe 1 – has a special hoppy aroma; FBOPF Ex. Sp Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings Extra Special – mild taste with caramel, etc.

Kenya

Rating: 4.8

Kenya - the tea pride of Africa

Amount of product produced (annual rate): 470,000 tons

Kenya is the only African country that has become a significant player in the global tea market – recently, the third largest producer of a flavored drink on the planet. Compared to most of the countries represented in the ranking, the African state cannot boast of huge tea plantations. The industry is represented by many modest farms of less than 1 acre.

Another feature is Kenya's climate. Everyone knows very well what the equatorial African heat is. But an ideal solution was found – for growing tea they chose high-mountainous regions located near the famous Lake Victoria. It is here that nature pleases with pleasant seasonal rains.

It is worth noting the skill of Kenyan tea planters – it is not so easy to maintain a leading position in the frantic world race. The secret of Kenyans' success is that they decided to take a non-standard path and relied on innovative developments and new methods of growing tea. It is for this reason that Kenya has recently been a leader in the creation of new tea cultures, for example, with dense foliage or unpretentiousness to growing conditions (a vivid example of the latter is single-leaf artesian tea).

Taste characteristics: rich, tart taste. Ideally combined with milk and honey, it becomes spicy with the addition of spices (for special connoisseurs). Slightly reminiscent of the Indian Assam.

India

Rating: 4.9

India

Amount of product produced (annual rate): 1 250,000 tons

The country has long been the undisputed second largest tea producer. More than 3.5 million people are involved in this industry, the majority of whom are women. India produces both black and green tea. True, the share of the latter is, as a rule, no more than 1/10 of the total amount of the grown product.

The tea industry in India began many years ago with bold commercial moves by the British East India Company, which began converting the colony's vast tracts of land exclusively for tea production. Today India is one of the largest players in the world tea market. Although this may not be so noticeable, since about 80% of the grown product is used for domestic needs: Indians are considered big lovers of good tea.

One of the most recognizable varieties of Indian tea drink is tea from the northern regions, which is a spicy blend that blends harmoniously with milk. Other varieties of Indian tea – Assam and the famous 'tea champagne' – Darjeeling are no less popular.

Taste characteristics: Darjeeling – nutmeg, tart taste and light floral aroma; assam – strong, with a strong, malty flavor; nilgiri – mild, light fruity taste and citrus aroma.

China

Rating: 5.0

China

Amount of product produced (annual rate): 2,400,000 tons

China is a real monster in the tea world. Every year the country produces incredible millions of tons of aromatic, high-quality drink with the finest taste. About 1/3 of all tea produced in the world is produced in China. In the near future, the unconditional leadership of the eastern country is unlikely to be challenged.

Since 2007, a sharp leap has been made towards an increase in production: the number of tea plants grown has doubled (!). One cannot fail to note the peculiarities of production: the main lines are constantly expanding, there is a clear tendency to increase the production of elite varieties – the Chinese dragon in action.

According to traditional Chinese legend, tea was cultivated in the country 5,000 years ago by the emperor and connoisseur of herbs, Shannong. And today tea in China is perceived not only as a fragrant hot drink, but also as a healing infusion, as well as the main participant in many national rituals.

Taste characteristics: it is worth talking separately about the most famous and most appreciated Chinese teas (just a few of many). The first of them – Pu-Er – is the king of black teas. Differs in a special, 'earthy' flavor, has medicinal properties – it is considered a drink of beauty and wisdom. Long Jing is the famous green tea. Only the tops with 2 leaves are used for its manufacture. The collection is done entirely by hand.

Unlike most other Chinese teas, complemented by scented flowers, Long Jing is produced in its pure form. Differs in rich taste and delicate aroma. Bilochun is made from small fresh leaves collected exclusively by hand. Collecting tea is a real art, moreover, very painstaking: you have to collect it literally one leaf from each bud.


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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