CityMash.com - A Vancouver Island couple has successfully produced Canada’s first Camellia sinensis, a plant that yields black tea, green tea, and a variety of others.
Tea, the world’s most popular beverage, has a long history stretching back thousands of years, beginning in China and spreading around the globe. However the aromatic drink had never been successfully cultivated commercially in Canada.
Victor Vesely and his wife Margit Nellemann have been able to accomplish the feat at Teafarm, Canada’s first commercial tea growing operation located in the Cowichan Valley 45 minutes north of Victoria.
In doing so the couple has defied a pronouncement from Agriculture Canada that tea could not be grown in the country, as the plant thrives in a more tropical environment.
The couple began their experiment in 2010 on the 11-acre Teafarm by planting some 100 tea plants. The incubation time for tea from planting to harvest can be four to five years, allowing the plants time to capture the essence of the land in its flavour.
“Honouring the way of tea, the slowness and tradition, we waited an extra year until the plants were really ready,” said Vesely, as quoted by The Western Producer.
The Cowichan Valley, with its mineral-rich soil and slopes to protect the plants from the wind, has proven to be a more than suitable environment. Even with plunging winter temperatures, the couple has lost just one sapling, despite leaving the plants open to the elements.
“Somehow tea just wants to be grown here,” Vesely said, as quoted by The Star.
After years of intensive effort to cultivate the plants, Teafarm has become a leader in the Canadian tea industry, selling a range of some 30 blended teas and herbal infusion. Some of the most popular include Cowichan Caravan and Mysteaque.
“Our goal is to be the home for tea culture in Canada in a very small and humble way,” Vesley said, adding, “For us, it’s about honouring the tradition.”