Mt. Vernon, Texas – Can you grow tea in the US? Yes! A recent tour of Southern US tea estates by growers, educators, retailers, and enthusiasts proves that a giant is about to awaken. According to consumer goods research firm, Packaged Facts, domestic tea sales at restaurants, grocery stores, and shops are up nearly 32% from 2007. Sales last year reached $15.7 billion with the market expected to expand to $18 billion within the next two years. The US grown tea movement is driven in part by the increasing market demand for specialty tea and the confidence given to small farm startups created by the ‘Farm to Table’, ‘Artisan’, ‘Buy Local’, and ‘Urban Food’ movements of the past decade. USLTG President, Jason McDonald, says of the US market and recent event, “I am pleased with the gaining interest in the US grown tea movement and think that this event gave the movement serious traction and direction going into the inaugural membership drive of the USLTG.”
The USLTG held its’ first Annual Tea Growers Roundup February 19, 2015 – February 22, 2015, and included visits to select estates and research sites in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Attended by growers from the UK, Hawaii, and numerous other states, the goal of the Roundup was to bring together farmers and aspiring growers to discuss estate operations, Federal, State, and University resources, and tea crop production issues. There was also an opportunity to network and liaison with various research projects already underway here in the USA.
Dr. Guihong Bi, Assoc. Research Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at Mississippi State University, stated of the tour, “It is exciting to see more people getting interested in growing tea within the US. Contacts that we have made through the USLTG have been invaluable in the development of our research objectives.”
The US League of Tea Growers (“USLTG”), formed in 2013 by Nigel Melican, of Teacraft, Ltd., and Jason McDonald, of The Great Mississippi Tea Company, is a professional group promoting and educating tea growers (only 25 plants needed for a small grower) in the United States.