It’s no secret that the British love their tea but I was surprised to learn that England has its own tea plantation in the county of Cornwall. Tea bushes thrive in the microclimate of the Tregothnan estate near Truro, which mimics that of the Himalayan foothills.
Tregothnan isn’t open to the public but our visit was included with the Corners of Cornwall tour with Back-Roads Touring.
The garden is home to rare and endangered species from around the world including the Wollemi Pine, or Dinosaur Tree, known only through fossils and thought to be extinct until it was found growing in Australia in 1994.
The estate’s peaceful botanical garden must be really spectacular in spring when the rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias are in bloom.
Camellia sinensis tea bushes were first imported from India in 1999 and now grow in pockets across the estate. Tregnothan has the only known surviving Wardian Case, a travelling greenhouse used for transporting foreign plants to Europe. Prince Phillip planted a tea bush here during his visit in 2014.
|World's Only Surviving Wardian Case|
Only two leaves and a bud are hand-picked from each bush at dawn and then processed according to traditional methods. Tregnothan tea is now served at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show and even exported to tea-growing countries like India and China.
After our tour of the gardens we were treated to a cup of tea and some delicious buttery biscuits. The estate’s many varieties of tea, as well as Manuka and wildflower honeys and rare kea plum jam, are available for purchase in the gift shop.
You might be ready for a cup of tea yourself so I’ll leave you here now and continue next week with our afternoon visit to the coastal town of Fowey.