The majestic Azores Islands are known for their Eco-friendly existence and natural landscapes that blanket the island with views of an exotic paradise. The region in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean has added a unique, exotic vegetation that due to the fertile soil and consistent amount of rain and sunshine in the winter and spring months, allows this very unique plant the “Camellia Sinensis” to thrive. It is here on the island of Sao Miguel where they have been producing what we know as ‘tea’ or ‘cha’ on this beautiful island since the 1800’s.
In the midst of the “Orange Crisis” in the Azores in the 1800’s vast plantations were transformed from Orange groves where millions of pounds of Oranges known as “St. Michael’s Oranges” or “Winter Oranges” were exported from the island of Sao Miguel to the UK each year and was a lucrative business for the Azorean Landowners and regional economy.A disease soon spread to the Orange tree’s that caused the discoloration of the Oranges which then began to have patches of green etc on them causing them to lose their appeal aesthetically with the British Merchants. The Azorean landowners with a group called SPAM Sociedade Promacao Agricultura Micaelense began a comprehensive study on which agricultural products would be successful in the Azores, with the intentions of promoting new agricultural products in the region.The decision to begin producing tea on the islands was favored by the group as it had many benefits both in production yields and consumption values. Tea throughout Europe had always been consistently steady, so the idea of producing high quality, pesticide-free teas for both internal and external markets sounded appealing. The process soon began of recruiting the finest tea masters in Macao (then a Portuguese Colony) to come to the Azores Islands; notably Sao Miguel and teach the art of tea cultivation to the Portuguese farmers.Lau-a-Pan and Lau-a-Teng were the two officials who came from Macao and began to teach the farmers where the best places to grow tea on the islands were and how to plant and manage the crops. The first outcomes of the teas were sent to the Kew Museum in the UK for testing and observation of the dried tea leaves and various other dignitaries to try the first cups of Azorean produced teas. In 1879 in both Clube Micaelense and Clube Lisbonense two of the country’s oldest and most exclusive social clubs introduced the teas to its members; with the general outcome as a satisfying taste and aroma. Now that the teas have been found comparable to other high-quality teas, the tea plantation owners began increasing their yields and productions and the success of the European tea industry soon began.