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Last Updated: Friday, 6 July 2007, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Indian tea experts come to the UK
By Alastair Lawson
BBC News

Taylors staff at the UK tea plantation
The Yorkshire crop will take a few years to develop
A tea company in the northern English county of Yorkshire has sought help from India in its plans to develop one of the UK's first tea gardens.

Taylors of Harrogate turned to experts from the state of Assam in its efforts to grow tea in "God's own county".

They gave advice to UK staff on what kind of soil the tea bushes would thrive in and also on how best to care for them in an unfavourable climate.

Much of the leaves in Taylors' "Yorkshire Tea" come from South Asia.

The company estimates that 9m cups of "Yorkshire Tea" are drunk each day.

Now blenders of the popular brew have just planted their very own tea plantation - in the not so tropical spa town of Harrogate.

Taylors staff with Indian experts
Indian tea experts were invited to the UK to give advice

The tea plantation is located in a small courtyard outside Taylors tea and coffee factory.

It is home to over 100 China Jat (or China type) tea bushes, planted on small hills, reminiscent of the best tea estates in Assam.

The three Indian experts - Rajan Mehra, Muku Rahman and Saurabh Shankar - came from some of the top tea estates in Assam and gave advice on the best ways to grow tea bushes.

Continuous sunshine

The China Jat is usually found at high altitudes because of its ability to survive in the cold, and can grow up to 50ft in height. Experts say it usually takes between three to six years to mature.

Tea plucker in Assam
Assam is home to some of the finest teas in the world

"The Indian delegation provided us with really useful advice," a Taylors spokesman said.

But the India team also cautioned that growing the plants would not be a cup of tea either.

"We were told that it will be no mean feat to nurture bushes which usually flourish in the tropics, requiring hours of continuous sunshine each day," a company spokeswoman said.

"However, a tea garden in (the county of) Cornwall is already successfully cultivating tea, something we hope to recreate, only in an even more northerly UK location."

The Head of Tea Buying at Taylors, Ian Brabbin, says that tea is usually named after the region it's grown in.

"So with a bit of patience, luck and advice from India, in a few years time 'Yorkshire Tea' really will come from Yorkshire!"

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