For thousands of years, its been believed that tea can only be grown in subtropical environments. I am very pleased and a little awed to learn that tea is growing in Washington State at the Sakuma Brothers Farm. Yes, you heard me, the Pacific Northwest. How marvelous! I can’t help but think that maybe little Hood River, OR where I live – which has some of the most fertile soil in the country and wet winters – may also be a good place to plant some Camellia sinensis.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could start producing some good quality local teas throughout the U.S.? Obviously there would be many different obstacles to overcome in order to make that a reality. There are generations of knowledge and skills that have been accumulated to create the quality of teas we much appreciate from China and India. As the article addresses, there are many aspects of labor and production costs that would interfere with the competitiveness of such endeavors here in America. Years of experimenting, learning, and refining would need to occur first before being able to produce even a small amount of a quality product. Would it be worth it for farmers here to get involved in such a crop? Could they make money? As Joe Simrany suggests in the article, it may only be as a result of creating a specialized niche market that would make growing tea in the U.S. feasible. Would the American public pay even a higher premium to purchase locally grown tea? These are but a few of the many questions that need to be addressed before this could begin to be approached seriously. I would love to hear from all of you in the community as to what you think would need to happen to make this a reality.