Over the next few weeks we will be sharing a series of posts documenting our trip to the Azores! The Azores is an independent region of Portugal that is made up of nine volcanic islands located in the Atlantic Ocean. We visited the island of São Miguel. Although we visited the island during the off-season, it was still beautiful and the travel deals are great at this time of year! However, I would definitely recommend going during the on-season—April to September—so you can see all of the flowers in full-bloom, bask in the warm sunshine, and actually see the sights sans dense fog. São Miguel offered lush, untouched landscapes and a relaxing atmosphere. You can reach the other eight islands via short inter-island flights and some of the islands are connected by ferries.
Chá Gorreana – Azorean Tea Plantation
We toured Chá Gorreana, one of São Miguel’s two working tea plantations. Chá Gorreana is Europe’s oldest tea producing company and has been Portuguese family owned and operated since 1883. The plantation is eco-friendly, the factory is powered by a stream that flows through the estate, and no pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides are used in production of the tea.
The mineral rich soil combined with the ocean air and temperate climate make the Azores the ideal location for the production of tea. In fact, for over a century, Chá Gorreana has produced the only tea grown commercially in all of Europe.
Both green and black tea are grown on the plantation and they are intermixed within the same hedges and sorted later in the harvesting process.
We toured the factory and learned about the machinery used to harvest and package the tea. The artisanal farming methods the plantation uses for harvesting the tea hasn’t changed much over the years. Harvesting the tea, which occurs from April to September, is a very delicate process that requires close attention.
The factory workers expertly hand sort the tea to ensure quality and perfection.
At the end of the tour we sampled the plantation’s various offerings, including: green tea, jasmine infused green tea, orange pekoe, black tea, and black tea infused with bergamot. This was perhaps my favorite part of the tour, all of the teas were delicious and rejuvenating. We bought some of the green tea and jasmine green tea to bring back to Dallas with us. You can learn more about Chá Gorreana and purchase their products here.
Overall, the tea plantation was definitely worth visiting, especially for a tea lover like me! The tea fields surrounded by panoramic ocean views were stunning, even on an overcast day.