Cornish tea plantation sets all year round record
The cold front may be brewing up a Siberian-style blizzard for the weekend but for a history-making tea plantation in Cornwall every day is Darjeeling.
Tregothnan Estate, near Truro, says one of the mildest winters on record has created a UK first in the Westcountry – an all-year-round tea harvest.
The pretty walled garden has not seen a frost since the big freeze last year and pickers ventured out again this week for the 12th consecutive month to set the record.
This is despite the bitter-cold temperatures that have hit the Westcountry, the rest of the UK and parts of Europe over the last few days.
Tregothnan's garden director, Jonathon Jones, said: "It is quite a novelty to be able to pick outside the normal season and the first time in history in this country.
"The frost isn't bad news for tea but it tastes a bit better without it – it has been a really unusual set of weather conditions."
The gentle slopes of the Cornish estate, home to the only tea plantation in the British Isles, were twinned last year with the Indian city of Darjeeling, famous for its black teas.
And claims of climatic similarities between the valley mists of West Bengal and the warm winters of west Cornwall, now don't appear as far fetched as first thought.
Tregothnan only harvested its first commercial leaves a decade ago and now produces around ten tonnes of its China-type tea each year.
It is similar to the tea which was first drunk in Britain some 400 years ago.
The estate is to create another first by selling fresh leaf tea at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.