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February 8, 2013

Tea Time

An estate owned by descendants of the 19th century British aristocrat for whom Earl Grey tea was named is turning history on its head by selling English tea to China. The Tregothnan estate in the southwestern English county of Cornwall started selling tea from its tiny plantation in 2005 and last year produced about 10 tons of tea and infusions. Current owners (and residents) of Tregothnan, Evelyn and Katharine Boscawen think they've found a niche to exploit in exporting English tea to China and India. The long history of immersing tea leaves in hot water for a refreshing drink is not lost on the Boscawens. By the Victorian Era, taking tea had become a regular ritual at almost every level of society from elaborate afternoon tea for the rich in country houses to tea and gruel for the working poor as depicted by Charles Dickens.Tregothnan has projected 2013 sales to be $3.14 million, a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the world's largest black tea exporter, Kenya, predicting $1.33 billion in sales for 2013. -- Paula Nelson ( 26 photos total)

Evelyn Boscawen and his wife, Katharine, at their home, the Tregothnan Estate near Truro in Cornwall, Jan. 14, 2013. Tregothnan is bucking an historic trend by growing tea in England and exporting almost half of it abroad, including to tea-growing nations like China and India. Owned by a descendant of 19th century British Prime Minister Charles Grey, after whom the Earl Grey tea blend was named, the Tregothnan estate has been selling tea since 2005 and currently produces around 10 tons a year of tea and infusions. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

Wesley Goldsworthy picks tea leaves at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 14, 2013. Tregothnan is situated in England's southwest and benefits from an unusual microclimate similar to that of Darjeeling in India. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Deer gather at the Tregothnan Estate near Truro in Cornwall, Jan. 14, 2013. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Wesley Goldsworthy holds a basket with tea leaves at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 14, 2013. Tregothnan is bucking an historic trend by growing tea in England and exporting almost half of it abroad, including to tea-growing nations like China and India. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Production manager, Brian Eyers, and tea volunteer, Brian Bowden, work in a drying room at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 15, 2013. With a portion of its tea bushes nestled in the estate's pleasure gardens, Tregothnan looks more like a vast country estate than an agricultural business. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Tea volunteer, Brian Bowden, smells Manuka in a drying room at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 15, 2013. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Production assistant, Alwyn Keenor, works on a tea machine at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 14, 2013. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Production assistant, Yvonne Bryan, packs loose tea leaves into a bag in a laboratory at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 15, 2013. "There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea," is the quote attributed to Basque philosopher Bernard-Paul Heroux that adorns individual packets containing the estate's teabags. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Production assistant, Alwyn Keenor, drinks a cup of tea in the staff room during a break at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 14, 2013. Referencing the stereotypical English love of a good brew is a big part of Tregothnan's marketing strategy. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Estate assistant, Katalin Odvide, packages tea at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 14, 2013. Tea, native to Asia, is not traditionally grown in Britain but can be cultivated outdoors at Tregothnan because of an unusual microclimate. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Estate assistant, Katalin Odvide, leaves a laboratory at the Tregothnan Estate near Truro in Cornwall, Jan. 14, 2013. Export to China is seen as an opportunity. "The Chinese are great lovers of buying exotic things from all over the world. Even if it might have come from China (originally)," says Boscawen. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Production manager Brian Eyers cuts a Manuka plant at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 15, 2013. Tregothnan is bucking an historic trend of tea flowing from East to West by beginning to export some of their wares to China and elsewhere. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Abby Keverne walks past a gate after picking tea leaves at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 14, 2013. The Tregothnan estate has been selling tea since 2005 and currently produces around 10 tons a year of tea and infusions. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Commercial and Garden Director, Jonathan Jones, at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 15, 2013. Tregothnan's historic setting, with its imposing country house and graceful grounds, is important to the brand. "We went into this right from the outset as being able to put the English into English tea," Jones said. "We weren't ever looking at being the new India or China, that's ridiculous." (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

An employee prepares an online order, Jan. 14, 2013. Tregothnan is part of a wider trend of small producers in strange parts of the world, including Hawaii, Canada and Scotland. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Buttons on a jacket in an office at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 15, 2013. Referencing the stereotypical English love of a good brew is a big part of Tregothnan's marketing strategy. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Estate assistant, Katalin Odvide, labels tea packages at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 15, 2013. "There's no one else who's growing tea in England and putting English tea on the market," said owner Evelyn Boscawen. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Marketing officer, Abbey Keverne, drinks a cup of tea in an office at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 15, 2013. The scale of production in Tregothnan is only large enough to be considered a small Darjeeling tea garden in India.(Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Estate assistant, Katalin Odvide, labels tea packages at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 15, 2013. Although Tregothnan has projected sales of teas and infusions of 2 million pounds ($3.14 million), this is a minuscule sum in comparison to the global export market with the world's largest black tea exporter, Kenya, predicting tea exports earnings of $1.33 billion in 2013. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

A cup of tea on an office table at the Tregothnan Estate, Jan. 15, 2013. Tea, native to Asia, is not traditionally grown in Britain but can be cultivated outdoors at Tregothnan, which is located in England's southwest and benefits from an unusual microclimate similar to that of Darjeeling in India. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Estate assistant, Katalin Odvide, drinks a cup of tea in the staff room during a break at the Tregothnan Estate near Truro in Cornwall, Jan. 14, 2013. Although the estate produces around 10 tons a year of tea and infusions, it is only a drop in the ocean of global tea production. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Bags hang in an office at the Tregothnan Estate near Truro in Cornwall, Jan. 14, 2013. Owned by a descendant of 19th century British Prime Minister Charles Grey, after whom the Earl Grey tea blend was named, the Tregothnan estate has been selling tea since 2005 and currently produces around 10 tons a year of tea and infusions.(Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Tea packages are displayed in a shop at the Tregothnan Estate near Truro in Cornwall, Jan. 15, 2013. Tregothnan is bucking an historic trend by growing tea in England and exporting almost half of it abroad, including to tea-growing nations like China and India. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)#

Tregothnan British tea at a tea house in the Hongqiao Antique and Tea Center, downtown Shanghai Jan. 25, 2013. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)#

Customers wait as Li Ding prepares Tregothnan British tea at her tea house in the Hongqiao Antique and Tea Center in downtown Shanghai, Jan. 25, 2013. Owned by a descendant of 19th century British Prime Minister Charles Grey, after whom the Earl Grey tea blend was named, the Tregothnan estate has been selling tea since 2005 and currently produces around 10 tons a year of tea and infusions. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)#

Shen Jun Yi drinks Tregothnan British tea at a tea house in the Hongqiao Antique and Tea Center in downtown Shanghai, Jan. 25, 2013. Tregothnan is bucking an historic trend by growing tea in England and exporting almost half of it abroad, including to tea-growing nations like China and India. Owned by a descendant of 19th century British Prime Minister Charles Grey, after whom the Earl Grey tea blend was named, the Tregothnan estate has been selling tea since 2005 and currently produces around 10 tons a year of tea and infusions. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)#



 
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