EU Awards Grant to Scottish Tea Growers

Nine farmers in the British Isles, experiencing renewed interest in locally grown tea, successfully collaborated in seeking European rural development funds last month.

The Tea Gardens of Scotland Group representing growers in Angus, Fife, and Perthshire Scotland were awarded £49,500 ($65,000) last month to meet the challenge of farming the crop in the chilly northern climate and to pursue the ambition of adding a tea trail to the area’s food and drink-related tourism draws, according to a report in the local newspaper. The group formed in 2016.

Susie Walker-Munro, Kinnettles Farm, Angus

Scottish Local Action Groups (LAGs) are made up of representatives from local communities, businesses and organizations with an interest in rural development. The LAG Leader 2014-2020 program is jointly funded by the Scottish government and the European Union. The nine member farms of the tea LAG consist of two Angus growers, five in Perth and Kinross, and two in Fife. Farmers receive a significant premium for their locally grown and processed tea with the bonus of attracting tourists to the region. Local hotels sell Scottish teas for £10 ($13 to $15) a pot.

Tea growing in greenhouse in Scotland

The group sourced cold-hardy tolerant seeds from Nepal and ex-Soviet Georgia and successfully propagated approximately 30,000  seedlings. “This year the group is busy planting in the various gardens. It is still very early days and as you can imagine it will be quite some time before the plants mature and they can produce significant amounts of tea,” according to Beverly Wainwright, a tea consultant and group co-ordinator advising growers.

The group has been spearheaded by Susie Walker-Munro who first planted tea at Kinnettles Farm in Angus in 2007 and who has produced a pure Scottish black tea for several years. According to Walker-Munro, “Farming teaches you one thing…that to have a viable business in Scotland and to be able to afford to pay people to pick and process, you need a good product to sell. Which means I must be able to make good tea.” Her Kinnettles Gold single estate tea sells for £30 ($40) for 20 grams.

The Tea Gardens of Scotland Group are committed to producing 100% pure Scottish tea, said Wainwright. The group initially came together to grow our teas, to share experiences and now as this project moves forward we continue to support each other with planting, she said.

Funds will be used to purchase processing equipment and assistance from agricultural experts in obtaining accreditation and international recognition for the gardens and teas of Scotland.

Dave Tollick, co-ordinator of the LAG, says “The potential is for the gardens involved to provide ground-breaking new tea products and, eventually, to develop training courses for growers and, hopefully, a tea-trail around the gardens for tea fans.”

Source: Tea Gardens of Scotland Group

Note: An earlier version of this article included links to an article published in the The Courier, a newspaper in Scotland. The Tea Gardens of Scotland Group said the article erred by naming brands (Garrocher and Isle of Mull Matcha) that are exclusive to the Wee Tea Company, implying the company and its affiliated brands were beneficiaries of the European Union LAG grant. The Gardens of Scotland, a group of nine growers, said the Wee Tea Company had no role in applying for the grant and will not receive funding. The Wee Tea Company founded the Scottish Tea Growers’ Association, a group of at least five growers that use the Wee Tea Company factory to process their teas. Graham Brown, chief reporter at The Courier writes: “the original piece in The Courier on May 3… did not contain any errors, as wrongly suggested by the Tea Gardens of Scotland Group.”