The World Tea News recently reported (11/30/09) on a study that suggests that plants producing high-quality tea cannot simply be reproduced in other regions with the same outcome. Researchers at the Kenyan institutions Maseno University, Egerton University and Moi University, conducted the study, which will appear in the April 2010 issue of the scientific journal Food Chemistry. They started from the idea: “A superior quality genotype in one location is assumed to replicate the same attributes when planted in different regions, especially when climatic variations are minimal.” To test it, they cloned 20 plants that produced high-quality tea and planted them under identical circumstances, but in three different regions. The results showed significant differences in the quality of the plain tea produced, based on certain parameters, among varying locations of production. A closer look further indicated that the changes in the tea were not systematic, because the same clone underwent different changes in different regions. The study led the team to conclude: “A genotype selected in one site for high quality may not retain the relative quality over other genotypes in new areas. It is necessary to test genotypes in new areas of production to fully evaluate their relative quality potentials.”
This is no news to us at Arbor Teas and we look forward to reading the full study in April. We have always supported the idea that tea, like wine, has a specific flavor profile associated with its geographic region (also known as “terroir”). Knowing this, we’ve made it a priority to source our teas from their traditional countries of origin. For instance, all of our Japanese Green Tea is sourced exclusively from Japan. None of our Japanese Green Tea is grown in China, unlike many of the “Japanese” teas found in the United States. Furthermore, we are proud to source many single-origin, estate-specific teas that showcase the flavor and quality of each of their individual regions.