Worldwide there are 25,000 cups of tea consumed every second—about 2.16 billion cups per day. It is the only beverage commonly served hot or iced, anytime, anywhere, for any occasion.

Much of the world’s tea is grown in mountainous areas 3,000 – 7,000 feet above sea level, situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn in mineral-rich and acidic soil. Over 30 countries grow tea with leading tea-producing countries being Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Black, green, oolong, dark and white teas all come from the same plant, a warm-weather evergreen named Camellia sinensis. Differences among the five types of tea result from the various degrees of processing and the level of oxidization. Black tea is fully oxidized and oolong teas are partially oxidized. After withering and rolling, the tea leaves undergo natural chemical reactions resulting in taste and color changes which develop the teas distinguishing characteristics. Green & white teas are not oxidized after leaf harvesting. Oolong tea is midway between black and green teas in strength and color. Dark teas are fermented after manufacture.

5. TURKEY – 250,000 TONNES


Turkey is the world’s fifth-largest tea-growing region after India, China, Kenya, and Sri Lanka. Most of its tea gardens are in the mountainous Rize province in northeast Turkey, close to the Black Sea, where the climatic conditions—snow in the winter that preserves and protects the tea plants against fungi and pests, and plenty of rain in the summer—are ideal for growing.

The Kaçkar Mountains rise sharply as one moves inland, sheltering this region from drier inland air and extreme temperatures, and creating the rainiest region in all of Western Asia, as the air drops most of its moisture content on the windward side of the mountains. See our article on climate and geography for a fuller explanation.

This region has a wet season September through January, and a dry season April through May, giving it close to the opposite precipitation pattern from the Asian Monsoon which influences the tea-growing parts of China and India.

Turkey protects their domestic tea market with a tariff of 145%, the highest tea tariff among major tea-producing countries.

4. SRI LANKA – 350,000 TONNES


The tea production of Sri Lanka, formerly called Ceylon, is one of the main income sources of the country. It is the fourth largest producer of tea in the world, and the second largest exporter. Around 20% of the teas sold around the world come from Sri Lanka.

The major tea growing areas are Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in Central province, Badulla, Bandarawela and Haputale in Uva province, Galle, Matara, and Mulkirigala in Southern province and Ratnapura and Kegalle in Sabaragamuwa province. Nuwara Eliya tea is said to have a unique flavor. Southwestern monsoon rain and cold weather from January to March are determining factors of flavor.

3. KENYA – 500,000 TONNES


In the world market, Kenya is the third largest producer of black tea after India and Sri Lanka. Kenya is a tropical East African country with a wide diversity of climate and geographic regions. This diversity allows many crops to be introduced and grown successfully. Tea is mainly grown in several districts which include Kericho, Bomet, Nandi, Kiambu, Thika, Maragua, Muranga, Sotik, Kisii, Nyamira, Nyambene, Meru, Nyeri, Kerinyaga, Embu, Kakamega, Nakuru and Trans-nzoia. In these areas the crop enjoys 80% favorable weather patterns.

2. INDIA – 1,250,000 TONNES


India is the second largest tea producer in the world. Indian tea is among the finest in the world owing to strong geographical indications, heavy investment in tea processing units, continuous innovation, augmented product mix and strategic market expansion. The main tea-growing regions are in the Northeast (including Assam) and in north Bengal (Darjeeling district and the Dooars region). Tea is also grown on a large scale in the Nilgiris in south India.

1. CHINA – 2,400,000 TONNES


China produces some 40% of the world’s tea weighing in at 2.4 million tonnes. It’s primarily grown in the provinces of Yunnan, Guangdong, and Zhejiang. While it’s the biggest exporter and grower of tea, China produces some of the best teas out there including Lapsang Souchong, Keemun and Green Gunpowder.


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