All the tea in Angus
- Louise Gray
- 11 May 2017
Susi Munro Walker began growing tea on Kinettles Farm before realising she was tea royalty herself
The Angus farmer's wife discovered she was the great great great granddaughter of Charles Alexander Bruce, who established the tea industry in India, only after setting up the first micro tea estate in Scotland herself.
Susi planted the first tea in Scotland in her walled garden in Kinnettles Farm after reading about tea farms in Cornwall in a magazine at the dentist. She realised that with its cool wet climate Scotland had similar tea growing conditions to Cornwall or even the Himalayas.
She planted the world's most northerly commercial tea garden in 2008. Through trial and error she worked out the kind of green manures the tea plants like, established pest control and polytunnels and learned how to pluck and roll the leaves herself.
She is now harvesting 2kg by hand every year: a small quantity but a highly specialised product with a subtle apple flavour that lingers in the mouth. Just like cheese and wine, tea has a unique 'terroir' created by the soil and the conditions that influences the flavour. Pekoe Tea in Edinburgh, who sell the black tea Kinnettles Gold, are struggling to meet demand it is so popular.
Susi is also raising tea plants from seed, bred from Nepalese and Georgian stock, to be more suited to the Scottish environment. The seedlings will be sold to other enthusiastic tea growers across Angus.
Susi says discovering tea is in her blood has been an inspiration. She hopes Scottish tea could become as well known as the Assam Charles Alexander Bruce discovered. 'My great great great grandfather managed to clear forests with elephants to grow the best tea in the world, I think I can sort out a walled garden and a few weeds to grow tea that is just as good in Scotland.'