Cha Gorreana: Europe’s Tea from the Azores

Tea Fields at Cha Gorreana Estate – Sao Miguel – Azores – Portugal

In 1750 the initial trials of tea occurred on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores; off the coast of Portugal. Producing very little tea (10 kg of Black and 8 kg of Green Tea). In 1801 the Governor-General of the Azores sent to mainland Portugal two cases of tea plants, noting that it grew in abundance in the Azores, however implementing commercial cultivation was still difficult. While residing in Brazil in 1808 the King of Portugal Joao VI received as a gift tea plants from the Emperor of China, which he had planted in Rio de Janeiro, and fine botanical gardens all over Brazil.

Portuguese born Jacinto Leite in 1820 returning to the Azores from Brazil, brought back with him seeds which were disbursed all over the northern regions of Sao Miguel for the purpose of commercial tea production. Encouraged by the founder of the Promotional Society of Micaelense Agriculture -Jose do Canto, in the late 1870’s two tea experts arrived from then Portuguese Macau and introduced the art of tea cultivation, with the first teas being produced and sold at Gorreana in 1883.
Entrance to Cha Gorreana Factory straight ahead with Gorreana home to the right

Recipient of the first ever “QualityCoast Platnium Award” and winner of the top 5 islands in the world award in 2015 by National Geographic, the Azores islands are an international destination for both marine and natural beauty. The Cha Gorreana tea plantation and factory is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Azores for over a century. Located in the North part of the island of Sao Miguel in the county of Ribeira Grande, here is the only commercial tea plantation in the Euro Zone region. Although there is a small ornamental garden that sells tea up the road from Gorreana, it hardly qualifies as a plantation and does not produce green tea like Gorreana. The tea plant is grown ornamentally in a couple of parts of Europe, simply as a plant with a few bushes but the commercial production of teas at a working plantation is only found in the Azores at Gorreana.

Trail from the Factory through the Tea Plantation

Family owned & operated since 1883, once between 14 estates intially grew tea in Portugal producing well over 700 tons annually at peek in the 1930’s. The high cost of land, labour and electricity made it difficult for the estates to remain profitable and they switched to various other commercial gardens and agricultural products that proved to be very successful for the Azorean landowners.

Event at Cha Gorreana – Sao Miguel – Azores

 The Cha Gorreana estate was once one of the many plantations that produced and exported oranges that were a favorite amongst European merchants and even had the name of “Winter Oranges” or “St. Michael’s Oranges” which lasted for over a century in the Azores. When a disease spread that affected the orange groves, Gorreana began producing green & black teas and for 5 generations the Gago da Câmara, now Hintze-Mota Family have been producing their brand of Azorean teas ever since. A family business that has gone from Ermelinda Gago da Câmara and her Husband Honorato, to their son Honorato Gago da Câmara, to his son Jamie Hintze and wife Angelina to their son Fernando Hintze and his wife D. Berta Meireles, to D. Margarida and her husband Hermano Mota and now is managed by daughters Madalena and Sara Mota, with D. Bertha still being the pulse and head of the company.

6 km’s of marked trails through Gorreana give outstanding views of North coast of Sao Miguel

The factory and trail is open from 9am to 6pm daily, and is the perfect place to visit and enjoy a cup of fresh picked tea. While touring the 19th century factory you can explore the process of tea production from plant to package with machines still in operation after 200 years. The trail begins at the factory and leads up the driveway to the plantation across the street. The trail is marked and you can enjoy it by hiking or walking through the marked 6 km trails. The views of the north coast of the island are outstanding from many points throughout the trail. When you are done exploring the factory and trail, the gift shop and tea room is the perfect place to grab a cup of their green or black teas for free and relax. They have teas for sale in the factory and this is the best spot to grab your tea on the island at a discounted price. Unique indeed, these teas are grown without the use of pesticides or fungicides in a 100% natural plantation. The fact that they are grown in the middle of the north Atlantic ocean, hundreds of miles away from industrial pollution adds to the aroma and taste of these world famous teas.

Some of the teas sold by Cha Gorreana in traditional packaging

One thing you must try and has to be the best sorbet I have ever tasted is the ice creams and sorbets that are produced at the Cha Gorreana factory. They have flavors from passion fruit, pineapple, wildberry, banana all with 100% fruits and dairy from the Azores islands. Made fresh daily, these are sold in the factory at Cha Gorranea and throughout the island of Sao Miguel, with over 20 flavors to choose from.

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