Page last updated at 16:19 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

Tregothnan Estate sells Cornish-grown tea to Japan

Eleanor Parkinson explains why the appeal of Cornish cream teas now extends to the far east

A tea plantation in Cornwall - believed to be the only one in the UK - is to export its produce and Cornish cream teas to Japan.

The Tregothnan Estate, near Truro, already ships tea to China and India.

The estate currently makes about a tonne of leaves a year at its 25-acre plantation.

The plants take six years to mature, but the tea is ready for drinking 36 hours after the leaves are hand-picked from the bushes.

After picking, the leaves and buds are withered on racks to allow them to soften. They are then rolled, oxidised and dried.

It's the ultimate tea ceremony from the UK
Jonathan Jones, Tregothnan Estate

Tregothnan's garden manager Jonathan Jones said the temperature, rainfall, humidity and soil PH at the Cornish estate was very similar to Darjeeling, which was why the estate's tea was so successful.

The estate said it blended traditional imported teas with its own leaves to produce a "quintessential" English tea.

Buyers from Tregothnan who recently went out to Japan with some scones, jam and clotted cream, said they were overwhelmed by the reaction.

"So far as the Japanese are concerned, it's the ultimate tea ceremony from the UK," Mr Jones said.

"It's a challenge, but by working together with Cornish businesses and the help of UK Trade and Investment, we've come up with a cream tea in a box.

"The cream is the trickiest part, but we can freeze it and then for three days it has a shelf life as if it were fresh."

Thousands of cream teas from Tregothnan will be served at the British Embassy in Tokyo on 21 April at a garden party to celebrate the Queen's birthday.

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