STiR Tea & Coffee: “Georgian Tea Returns”

A tea plantation near Georgia's Black Sea resort town Chakvi. Photo by Larry Luxner., Sep 06, 2016, Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia is well-known for its unique wine industry and endemic grape varieties, yet not many people know about the country’s tea industry, which only dates back a few hundred years but was once one of Georgia’s leading exports.

One of world’s leading industry magazines about hot beverages, STiR Tea & Coffee, has published an article about Georgia’s efforts to revive its tea industry.

Twenty years ago, few Westerners had any clue that Georgia, a former Soviet republic in the Caucasus, boasts a winemaking tradition dating back 8,000 years. These days, Georgian vintners — cultivating an astonishing 525 indigenous varieties of grapes in a country half the size and population of the US state that shares its name — sell their reds and whites in upscale wine shops from New York to London,” wrote author Larry Luxner.
Georgia now hopes to replicate that success with its moribund tea industry,” he added.

Until the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Georgia provided 95 percent of the tea consumed by Russia, Ukraine, and the other 12 republics.

Thanks to mass mechanical harvesting, production peaked at 152,000 metric tons in 1985, with 60,000 hectares of tea under cultivation. That would have made Georgia the world’s fourth-largest tea exporter, had it been an independent country at the time.

But this was all about quantity, not quality — and as was the case with wine, that’s precisely what Georgian entrepreneurs and government officials now want to change,” wrote Luxner.

The article goes on to explain how tea first came to Georgia, the importance of Tea for Georgia during the Soviet period and why the Government is putting such a strong focus on reviving the tea industry.

Read the full article here: