Top 10 Tea Producing Nations

Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world after water. While people drink coffee mostly at work or when going out with friends tea remains the most popular hot beverage in the world. And tea imports that have increased more than 400% since 1990 prove this.

Tea was brought to the UK from China where it was widely used as a medicinal drink. Since the 17th century, it has been consumed in the UK, and got very popular. If you need a bit of extra energy to get through the day consider drinking a cup of a black or green caffeinated tea. To relax after a long day, some decaffeinated herbal tea will calm your nerves best.

Since tea is highly demanded worldwide, no wonder it is currently being produced on a mass scale. According to UN Food And Agriculture Organization statistics for global production, the following countries are the global leaders in tea production.

10 – Argentina (69,924 tonnes)

Now tea is an important part of Argentinean culture, but this crop was brought to Argentina only in the 1920s. In the 1950s tea industry developed very slowly because of very cheap prices on tea and tea import ban imposed by in the country’s government. However, favorable climate and geology helped Argentina become one of the major tea producers in the world in the long run. This country specializes in producing mostly black tea as its subtropical climate is perfect for growing hybrid Indian and Assamica variants. By the way, the national drink of Argentina is mate, a herbal brew, made from the leaves of yerba mate plant.

Tea Growing Camillestea

9 – Islamic Republic of Iran (83,990 tonnes)

Until the late 15th century, Iran’s most popular hot beverage was coffee. But as the country was located far from the main coffee producing countries it was difficult to get the coffee beans. It was much easier for vendors to get tea from China due to the popular trade route known as the “silk road.” So tea was becoming more and more popular, and in 1882 Iranians managed to get the seeds from India and started to cultivate tea themselves. Saltaneh, who was Iranian ambassador to India under British rule, found out the secret of tea production. Since the British kept it secret Saltaneh went undercover as a French worker to India. He even had to work on plantations to learn how to grow tea and then brought tea samples to Iran. After returning to Iran he planted tea at home and this is how the tea industry was started. Today, the country boasts 32,000 hectares of tea farms.

8 – Japan (88,900 tonnes)

Three of Japan’s major islands have climatatic conditions favorable for tea production. Even though Japan produces quite a lot of tea only about 2% of it is exported and the bulk of tea produced is consumed within the country. An interesting fact is that about 99.9% of all the tea produced in Japan is green tea. Japanese green teas are typically steamed, but there is a great variety of them, including bancha, sencha, genmaicha, and hojicha.

7 – Vietnam (116,780 tonnes)

Vietnam began to cultivate tea in the late 19th century and since that time the industry experienced a significant growth. Very soon Vietnam started exporting their teas to Europe and Africa. During the Vietnam War the industry slackened but in the 1980s Vietnamese production began to flourish again. In Vietnam there are a lot of large companies that use the latest technology and machinery, along with small independent producers who produce handmade artisan teas. About 60% of the tea grown in Vietnam is black tea, 35% is green, and 5% is other tea such as lotus or jasmine tea. Vietnam is also home to rare tea varieties, including Shan Tuyet made from indigenous trees that grow only in some parts of the country.

6 – Indonesia (157,388 tonnes)

Indonesia has been producing tea since the early 18th century, when Dutch colonists introduced the crop. Much of the tea produced (65% of it) is exported from the country. Tea growing in Indonesia is mostly black tea, the other tea being green tea and some rare varieties found only in Vietnam.

Turkey Tea Camillestea

5 – Turkey (174,932 tonnes)

Despite the fact that Turkey is renowned for its delicious coffee it also produces about 200,000 tonnes of tea leaf annually. A curious fact is that most of the crop grown in Turkey is harvested in a small area not far from the city of Rize. This area located close to the Black sea as well as favorable climate and topography is ideal for cultivating tea. Turkey produces mostly black tea, often referred as Turkish or Rize tea. By tradition the Turkish brew tea in a samovar (a sort of self boiler) and then dilute a concentrated brew with water. And even though the country doesn’t produce great varieties of tea it maintains such a strong industry by protecting its domestic market with a very high import tariff on foreign teas.

4 – Sri Lanka (295,830 tonnes)

The tea industry of Sri Lanka was started in 1867 by James Taylor. The British planter planted tea on a small plot of about 19 acres in the city of Kandy and the plantation gradually expanded as well as the industry. These days a small plantation turned into one of the nation's largest industries, providing jobs to more than a million Sri Lankan workers. Tea in Sri Lanka is produced using the contour planting method, which requires planting the bushes in lines that follow the earth’s contours. Sri Lanka that used to be known as Ceylon, produces Ceylon black, Ceylon green, and Ceylon white tea.

3 – Kenya (303,308 tonnes)

Tea in Kenya is grown not on large plantations but on small farms that are less than one acre in size. The country has invested much in research and development of the tea industry and now is proud of new varieties that yield bigger harvests and can better withstand harsh weather conditions.

Sri Lanka Tea Camillestea

2 – India (900,094 tonnes)

The second largest tea producer of tea in the world, India produces an average 900,000 tonnes annually. After tea was brought to Britain from China the British East India Company began to grow tea in their East-Asian colony. Now India produces tea in large quantities, as the country has more than a billion tea drinkers and more than 70% of the Indian tea is consumed within the country rather than being exported. The spicy tea blends produced in North India are the most popular in the USA, but India produces the world’s famous Assam and Darjeeling varieties too.

1 – China (1,000,130 tonnes)

China is the leader in tea production. In 2013 alone this country produced 1,700,000 tonnes of tea which constitutes about 30-35% of the total amount produced in the whole world that year. China has been cultivating tea for centuries. According to the legend the emperor Shennong introduced tea in 2737 BCE. It has been widely used not only as a beverage but also as a medicine, and many Chinese rituals are centered around this plant. China produces a wide range of teas, including green, yellow, white, pu-erh, oolong, and jasmine.