Tea is still grown in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, 1,500 kilometers from the mainland. The oldest tea plantations in Europe are located there.
Tea production is thought to have been introduced in the Azores in the beginning of the 19th century — around 1820 — by Jacinto Leite, an Azorean born in the island of São Miguel. At the time, Jacinto was working as commander of the Royal Guard of King John VI in Brazil and decided to create the first tea plantation São Miguel, using seeds he had brought from Rio de Janeiro. The climate of the island proved to be good for the crops and the cultivation of tea slowly gained support in the island. While the production and exportation of orange — a very important part of the island’s economy — was in clear decline, tea production looked like a promising substitute. Soon, tea production became an important occupation for the inhabitants of the island and its economy, peaking in the 1950s, when exports rose to 250 tons, and about 300 hectares were used for tea plantations. However, after that, the popularity of Azorean tea began to decline, and by 1966, out of 14 tea processing factories, only 5. In recent years, only two of them remained: the Gorreana Tea Factory and the Porto Formoso Tea Factory. Let’s visit some of them: