Our other national T
Ceylon, Assam, Xinyang . . . Angus. Does Scotland have what it take to join the world’s great tea-producing areas? Courtney Hyde Peyton found out what’s brewing
Family traditions can have fascinating origins. Almost 180 years ago Charles Alexander Bruce brought assamica tea to the British market, driving the expansion of tea production in Assam. Today, his great-great-great granddaughter Susie Walker-Munro has produced her own single estate tea, Kinnettles Gold. The twist is that this time the tea itself is Scottish.
Grown and hand-rolled on Kinnettles Farm in Angus, it has taken eight years of hard work, research, learning, growing and absorbing expert guidance for Walker-Munro to deliver the first limited edition Kinnettles Gold to market. The tea was specially developed for the Scottish climate with the help of tea consultant Beverly-Claire Wainwright of Teacraft. Wainwright’s philosophy is to match processing methods to suit the terroir, rather than copying methods from other countries. She was also responsible for introducing Kinnettles to Jon Cooper, owner of PekoeTea in Edinburgh. For Cooper, the tea was unique. ‘I’ve never seen or tasted a tea like this before,’ he says. ‘From my point of view as a tea trader, this tea should fall into the category of a semi-oxidised tea or oolong. But from the colour of the liquor, taste and the new production methods it is very difficult to categorise this tea within any of the main tea types.’
Retailing at an eyebrow-raising £50 for a 20g tin, or £15 for a cup in PekoeTea Stockbridge, one of Cooper’s two specialist tea shops in Edinburgh, Kinnettles has ambitiously positioned itself at the top end of the market and is hoping to lead the way in Scottish artisan tea production.
Plans for the future include establishing tea plants in the favourable microclimate of the estate’s walled garden, as part of a scheme looking at the potential for up to 11 other Scottish tea growers planning to transform their wall gardens into tea gardens.