We Brits consume more than 60 billion cuppas a year – 900 every year for every man, woman and child – but the leaves used to make it come from India and China.
However, in a few weeks’ time when a new Genuine Jersey branded product goes on sale Islanders will have three hand-crafted whole leaf teas to choose from – green, oolong and black – which have been grown and processed in the Island.
The Jersey Tea Company is the brainchild of four friends – Katherine and Terry Boucher and Cardin and Michelle Pasturel – who spent many months perfecting their product.
‘I feel lucky to be taking on this venture with three friends who all have different skills to bring to the company but who are equally excited about the health benefits of tea and the importance of biodiversity to the Island,’ Mrs Boucher said.
‘It was a big decision for the four us to take on a new venture, alongside our professions and family life, but every time I head to St Lawrence to help tend the plants and see what we have grown I feel lucky to be involved in the development of a new local business and enjoy the peace and quiet of being out in the fields.’
The tea is being grown at an organic farm in St Lawrence and at the former States nurseries site, Warwick Farm in St Helier.
Although tea is largely produced in India and China, the common tea plant – Latin name Camellia sinensis – does not require a hot or humid climate to grow. It is most happy in temperate regions with plenty of rain.
‘We are so lucky to have the environmental conditions in Jersey to grow good-quality produce and experts have said that you can really taste the difference in the tea, having been grown so close to the sea,’ Mrs Boucher said.
Tea is also being successfully grown elsewhere in the British Isles, in Cornwall and Scotland, and the Island’s largest potato grower, the Jersey Royal Company, is diversifying into tea-growing with a trial crop in its second year on the north coast.
Warwick Farm is also being used to grow another alternative crop, hemp. Seeds from the hemp plants are pressed locally to make hemp cooking oil and cannabidiol (CBD) oil – a substance thought to have medicinal properties which has increased in popularity in recent years.
These new initiatives are being encouraged by the Environment Department as the Island looks for alternative crops to diversify the rural economy.
Honeyberries, a ‘super-food’ that tastes like a cross between raspberries and blueberries, are also being grown under trial in Trinity.