Britain is known for its love of tea, and here at Aspects, we are proud that the only English-grown tea is produced in Cornwall, on the Tregothnan Estate, near Truro. We were lucky enough to recently meet with the TEAm at Tregothnan to find out all about this extra special tea!
On arrival at the estate, we were welcomed with steaming cups of Tregothnan tea and biscuits - delightful! Before our tour began, we were offered wellie boots and umbrellas, but thankfully, the rain just about held off for our tour of the gardens!
Strolling through the estate, we felt like we had been transported through time; alongside the magnificent imposing house ran tree-lined pathways leading to the centuries-old gardens, with horse-drawn carriages passing by. We meandered along ‘Ladies Walk’, so named after the common use of this pathway by the ladies of the house, who enjoyed a stroll after luncheon.
We were fascinated to learn more about the history of this grand estate. Dating back to 1334, the Boscawen family have resided at Tregothnan estate ever since, with the current house having been built in 1812. The Boscawen family still live at the house (which is completely private and photos are not permitted) on the estate today, and interestingly, are direct descendants from Earl Grey. The family also own an estate in Kent, where they produce charcoal.
The history of this estate is captivating, and indeed pioneering. With over 100 acres of botanical gardens at Tregothnan, they own some of the rarest species of plants in the world. Around 200 years ago, the family introduced the first ever camellia into the UK, and now have over 200 species of the camellia on the estate.
As a self-confessed tea fanatic, I was eager to see the famous tea plantations, but was amazed by the abundance of botanical plants as we headed in the direction of the Cornish tea leaves. The estate boasts many unusual species of plants. The rare collection includes the largest rhododendron in the UK, a champion Magnolia Campbelli (one of only six in the UK) and amazingly an almost extinct Wollemi Pine tree. Following a trip to Australia in 2005, a cutting of the Wollemi Pine tree was bought at auction, after the tree was thought to be extinct. Tregothnan are the first in the UK to have cultivated this rare tree.
But of course, we came to learn more about tea! In the 1990s, the MD of Tregothnan estate, took an interest in tea growing and travelled to China to gather as much information as possible. In 1999 the first tea bush was planted on the estate – thus the Tregothnan ‘Classic Blend’ was born! By 2005, they began selling the tea commercially and today, they sell their blends across the World, with the main exports being to Europe and China.
Arriving at the tea plantation, a mini-China emerged in front of us. Rows of leafy bushes swept down the valley, with a stunning pagoda opposite.
At the top of this tea plantation, is one very important tea bush, a Camellia Sinensis, planted in 2014 by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip. The Royal Single Estate tea produced from this plant was presented to HRH Prince Phillip as a retirement gift last year.
But what makes the tea thrive here in Cornwall? The unique micro climate, produced by the warm air form the River Fal, combined with the depth of the valley, provides the perfect conditions and environment for the tea to grow, making this location extra special.
In order to make the perfect cup of tea, the tea leaves are handpicked once a month from April to October. Only the top two leaves and a bud are selected, they are then taken to the onsite production barn where they are left to wither, before being rolled, oxidised and dried. Once this process is complete the leaves are either made up into tea bags or packed for loose leaf tea. Surprisingly, the team at Tregothnan make a variety of different teas by blending different leaves. They have had teas commissioned by Liberty of London, Sunset Polo, and they sell a range of charity teas too. Of course, as well as your classic tea, Tregothnan also produce a range of fruit infusions, with most of the plants for these grown on the estate too.
Tregothnan is also making a name for itself with its Manuka Honey – the estate is the only place in the UK to produce Manuka honey!
Your chance to visit the estate...
If you want to see the estate for yourself, then you are in luck! Once a year, the estate opens to the public for the annual charity garden open weekend. You can visit the estate on Saturday 21st April (which also happens to be National Tea Day!) and Sunday 22nd April. You can purchase tickets through the Tregothnan website for £10 (under 16s go free!) or purchase them on the day - all money is donated to the Merlin MS Centre.
If you want to visit Cornwall, view all our properties in Cornwall here >