Colombian Tea

Colombia practically means coffee. Even the fictional coffee farmer, Juan Valdez—created in the 1950s for a campaign advertising pure Colombian coffee—has been a household name for decades!

coffee beans

In coffee-growing countries, coffee reigns king. Costa Ricans, for example, scoff at decaffeinated coffee, while visitors are reminded at every turn of the brew’s importance.

coffee candles
Coffee candles from Costa Rica
carving
Costa Rican wood carving of a woman carrying coffee beans

Colombia tea, therefore, doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. In fact, when many of us hear “tea” and “South America,” the widely popular herbal Yerba mate comes to mind rather than true tea (Camellia sinensis).

And really, why would tea be grown in a country that has been exporting coffee for nearly 200 years? In a country that boasts the ideal coffee environment with its volcanic soil, high altitude, and correct amount of rainfall?

Add in the fact that only the highest-quality of plants are grown and the ripe beans are handpicked and you have met the conditions for a premium product.

Which does sound rather like tea!

Indeed, the mountainous regions of Colombia—the Andes cut down through the country—are well suited for tea, and the equator runs across the country’s southern quarter, similar to Indonesia and Kenya, both tea-growing regions.

colombia

Around 70 years ago, Colombia’s Department of Agriculture imported tea seeds (Camellia sinensis and Camellia assamica) from Sri Lanka, hoping to boost their own export economy. Although the country has experienced periods of unrest since then, several tea gardens are now producing tea, including some fine orthodox teas.

One example is Colombia El Chocó, a black tea with very dark leaves sprinkled with a few reddish and light-colored leaves.

colombia lvs

The infusion is an intense coppery orange-brown color—really beautiful.

colombia brew

Looking at the brewed leaves, you can see that they opened into large pieces of leaf, ranging from lighter browns to olive green in color.

colombia brewed lvs

The flavor of the brew?

Well, let’s say that I was a bit underwhelmed. It’s a serviceable breakfast-type tea, something that I could readily drink while doing something else. I didn’t find it a tea that demanded my attention.

Still, from a coffee-based country, it’s a decent start!

Additionally, it might be a good hedge against current threats to coffee. Colombia, like Costa Rica, grows only Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica), which is the superior species but which also has very specific growing requirements. Unfortunately for coffee growers, a potentially devastating fungal pathogen, coupled with climate change, is threatening coffee plants, particularly the wild strains that are critical to crop development (Davis et al. 2019). Tea may be an option if coffee falters—assuming that resilient species of tea are able to adapt to a changing environment.

And if you are wondering about the name of this particular tea, El Choco is an ecological region that runs from Panama down to Ecuador. Tutunendo, located within Choco in Colombia, is the third rainiest place on the planet!

Colombia may be known for its coffee but it possesses abundant eco-diversity and beauty—and now tea gardens as well!


For a limited time, a sample of Colombia El Chocó is available as part of TeaHaus’ Monthly Brew Tea Sampler, March Collection.


Source: Davis, A. P., et al., “High extinction risk for wild coffee species and implications for coffee sector sustainability,” Science Advances 6(1). January 16, 2019.

6 thoughts on “Colombian Tea

  1. The world of tea has been opened up to me! Thank you!

    It really isn’t just green tea packets hanging in a cup 😀
    Time to dive deeper!

    This sort of exploration is what I’m all about!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice to know there is tea famous somewhere in Columbia. Thank you for sharing. Not sure how it is compared to Malaysia’s Cameron Highland tea?

    I love coffee and tea, both influenced by my parents. I love the smoothness and throat friendly of tea. I love the bitterness of the coffee. I will interchange to drink them in a day. When I am sick of coffee, often time I found tea will serve me well. Not an expert on tea or coffee but just love them. I think if we fast forward to 200 years in future, tea and coffee may still be the drink on everyone table.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your interesting comments. I’ve never had the Cameron Highland tea so I don’t know how it compares, but I’d like to try it sometime.

      I have a similar background to you in that my mom was a tea drinker and my dad a coffee drinker so I ended up loving both. Considering that tea and coffee each have health benefits, I think I’m well covered!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s