We are delighted to have another blog post from our German friends, Marten and Sina as they continue their journey across Canada. (See our previous blogs about and by Marten and Sina - Two Leaves and a Bus and Quebec, Maple Syrup, Darjeeling and Tea).
By Marten and Sina Verch
Sooner than expected we came to the realization: We managed to cross the 2nd largest country in the world. Within the last 8 months we have put more than 20,000 kilometres on our van traveling from Atlantic Canada to the Pacific Ocean. From Halifax to Vancouver to be exact. We still have a long way to go. We’re probably just at the half-way point of our trip. But before we continue our journey heading south into the states there’s work waiting for us in Saskatchewan. It feels strange traveling 1,800 kilometres heading back east but we’re looking forward to our jobs and spending the summer close to the beautiful Prince Albert National Park.
Sunset at Waskesiu Lake
Along our route we have been blessed with innumerable impressions and enjoyable encounters. There have been pleasant surprises and a few disillusions. There have been ups and downs. Addressing these, however, would go beyond the scope of this blog. After all, it should be about tea here. At least in a broader sense. But that's exactly why one particular highlight along our way absolutely deserves to be mentioned: The visit of Westholme Tea Farm on Vancouver Island. With loving care hundreds of tea plants have been cultivated here for 9 years. Freshly harvested and hand-crafted teas can be enjoyed on the terrace together with homemade cakes and other delicacies. The tea is served in tea pots and sets, which are also manufactured in a studio on the farm. With every sip you can taste the love and passion in which the tea plants are rooted.
Vegan Brownies & White Mist – Spring Harvest 2019
Of course we had known that Canada has more to offer than snow and maple syrup. But learning that the climate on Vancouver Island is almost ideal for tea cultivation was very surprising. Tea grows best in a subtropical to tropical climates with much rainfall. The soil should be slightly acidic and well aerated. What the tea plant doesn’t like is waterlogging. And severe and long lasting frost. Historically, tea is grown in Asian countries such as China, India and Sri Lanka. The tea cultivation in countries such as Kenya or Tanzania or even Argentina has a rather young history. However, Kenya has become the No. 1 export country within a few decades. Especially in the course of climate change for others in this context “exotic” regions, if you will, cultivating tea is becoming increasingly interesting. Vancouver Island is certainly one of them. In some states especially in the south of the USA there are a few quite promising projects. But also in Hawaii there are now dozens of tea gardens. In Europe tea is grown in Scotland and in the Azores. Smaller projects can be found in France, Switzerland and even in our home country Germany. Georgia has recently been "rediscovered" as well.
"Two leaves and a bud” at Westholme Tea Farm
It is inspiring to see how people across the world commit themselves to grow the teas about which we like to philosophize when brewing us a cuppa. For people who are the first to give it a try and start growing tea in one of the more “exotic“ regions the challenge of it might be a major driving factor. Whereas some farms certainly benefit from the climate change it is remarkable that in most cases people just don’t want to accept the weather conditions to be against their favour. Either way, it will be interesting to see what geographic development tea cultivation will take in the future.