Europe’s Only Green Tea Grown on the Azores Islands
One of the unique things about the Azores islands is that they are the only region in the entire Euro-zone to grow tea commercially and have been doing so since the 19th century. The island of Sao Miguel is extraordinary and unique for its ability to be able to produce tea, which generally only thrives in stormy regions. The gulf stream breeze and mineral-rich soil are only a few reasons why this prized tea had been a significant tourist destination and commercial product for the Portuguese community for over a century. Here at the famous Cha Gorreana tea estate, the family-owned and operated plantation, you can explore the tea trail that goes through the estate, leading up mountain hills and deep into valleys where they have their waterfall. The museum and factory are filled with 19th-century artifacts from the time it began producing tea here 130 years ago. The machines are amazing to see in use; some of the machinery is over 200 years old and is one reason why this unique factory still produces its rare Atlantic teas. The company has always been very closely associated with the economic pulse of the Azores. It is one reason why the local tourism boom on the island of Sao Miguel has occurred. The introduction of their unique brand of teas to the international community through various marketing and promotional events brought awareness and attention to such a beautiful region that had generally been overlooked in the Eco-tourism sector. One of the added benefits of the delicious teas that Cha Gorreana produces is that the entire factory is powered hydroelectricity. Jamie Hintze, the 3rd generation owner in the early 20th century, used the waterfall and stream that flows through the estate to power the factory. This is is a must-see when visiting Sao Miguel, and it is here that they have free teas available to sample in their tea room. This is a perfect place to grab a light lunch while admiring the sweeping ocean views over this emerald-green tea plantation. This is one of the most famous and popular brands in Portugal. Cha Gorreana gained the reputation as the “Azorean Embassy” due to all its high-profile visitors throughout its history. In 2018 the Portuguese company was given the award for “the most prized brand in the country.” Here, 5th generation owner D. Margarida Meireles Gago da Camara Hintze-Mota was honored for her role in preserving tea cultivation not only in Portugal but for all of Europe as Cha Gorreana was the only remaining commercial tea plantation left in Europe after 1980, and the only place tea was still grown even ornamentally on the continent. Today 6th generation owners, under the guidance of their Mother and Grandmother before them, Madalena and Sara Mota, have revamped the Cha Gorreana brand to become one of the must-have, must-do sites in all of the Azores. The hard work and dedication that these two young, female bosses have put into the company are visible with Tripadvisor rating it the 2nd most popular destination to visit in the Azores for the 3rd year in a row. The introduction of new varieties of blended teas to go with their traditional line of organic, green, and black teas and their limited edition white and oolong teas are only some of the latest products to come from this historical company. The recent renovation and expansion of the estate is currently still underway and should be completed by the fall of 2019. In the meantime, the estate is open daily, 365 days a year, where you can always come and explore this unique spot.