Angela Hurrell - You can visit Angela's Blog here http://www.garrocherteagarden.co.uk//
Angela says, "Initially I wanted to have Something to encourage people to come to the garden on certain days. Originally the idea was herbs and herbal teas. At the time there were no herb growers in DG. The idea had to be strong, something to make visitors come the mile plus off the beaten track. I was still growing veg, and going to market. I wanted something that would give me an income without going out and about all over the place, in all weathers. It was an easy step to take, and not far from what I was doing already. The actual Tea bushes were, to be part of the whole, veg,Flower salads, flower teas, herbs."
Garrocher Market Garden sits in the Scottish Lowlands, Dumfries in Galloway.
Tell us more...
The change wasn't so difficult. I don't think I actually thought about it, as a plan. Bits just kept slotting in and things that were what'd of turned up in one way or another. I could say buying the first tea bushes started the process, but I think things were well on the way before then, one way or another. It was just one of the times when opportunities happen, and you go with them.
How did you get started?
I left a message on the Wee Tea Company's FB page, and I got a call from Tam O'Braan of the Plantation . 20 minutes later I had bought my first bushes. With the planting and growing of Tea in Scotland being very young and still very experimental, all the growers are part of a Tea Co-operative. The premier leaf I grow goes into my Single Estate, Garrocher Grey, sales are through the Wee Tea Company. My involvement as a tea grower is as an associate of the Wee Tea Plantation, and a member of the co-operative. The benefits are. A close working relationship with other growers. Technical support, a say in what happens to our tea, quality standards, processing and an agreed price for the fresh picked leaf, and the finished Tea. There is also the work the team at Wee do to promote the Single Estates bringing this rare high quality Tea to the best establishments.
The climate in Galloway seems to be ideal. Water is ample, both from above and from springs. The soil has an acidic quality, ideal for Camelias, Rhododendrons, and Azalias. On the whole the weather favours the plants growing. Care has to be taken in the winter. Not necessarily because of the low temperature- although the tea is protected from this- it's the temperature fluctuation that can be, damaging, as I know to my cost, with the very deep frost we had after the fare weather at the beginning of the Spring. The intense sunlight is also guarded against, ether by defuses or by planting in dappled shade. Galloway's amiable temperatures, ample rain fall and, free draining, low Ph soil is ideal for tea growing.
When is the growing season?
In a good year with the right protection, leaf will start to grow as early as February, and can Carry on well into October, with protection from the cool nights. A mild winter can bring a flush on in February, with a chance to harvest. Perfect conditions would give a flush and harvest every 30 days or so. If the temperatures and weather are less than ideal, every 40 days, for harvest and a season lasting 7 months, rather than 9 months.
Yes I was delighted with the First Harvest. It was such a long wait. The bushes hadn't been in long, and we had no idea when the first flush would come on. On this picking day, Tam was visiting and we had a fine day with picking and talking to prospective plantation owners. Tea and chat seem to go together. When the leaf is picked it goes to the co-operative, by carrier, or if someone from Wee Tea is coming down, or I'm going up to the Plantation it's taken that way. Between us we manage to catch up on a monthly basis, if the leaf is ready to be picked. As for the process you will have to ask the experts at Wee Tea. I know the basics, but I'm no expert and I think there may be blending secrets go into the Garrocher Grey.
Garrocher Grey Tea
Garrocher Grey is a black tea. As with all the single estate leaf teas made from the first two leaves and the tip, ( next leaf still furled). Black tea is the most heavily processed tea, with White tea as in The Dalreoch White, being the least processed. The Garrocher Grey is also a smoked tea, and is scented and flavoured by the flower from the Monarda plant, other names, Bergamot, or Bee Balm. This plant grows freely in the garden, and is one of the reasons Garrocher Grey is my first Single Estate Tea.
How does it Taste?
The Taste is full deep and full bodied, soft and slightly sweet on the pallet, with the light smoke and flower scent and taste mingling together. I like it, and so do others who have had a chance to taste it at my tea talks.
Scottish Tea Revolution
Being part of the Scottish Tea revolution. There's no one word to describe it. As far as growing is concerned, its calm and like a home coming. The promotion side is very active, and there is a lot of work to do, and a vast amount already done. Without the Wee Tea Company and Wee Plantation, the skills and the drive of the people behind the idea of Scottish Tea, I wouldn't be where I am today. To see Garrocher Grey take its place with Dalreoch,White the, award winning Dalreoch Smoked White, and the New Stem Tea grown at Mo Dhachaidh on Mull, Was a huge accolade. The launch in New York attended by Scotland's First Minister, at the prestigious Lowell Hotel in Manhattan, and knowing that the Tea was part of a State gift. Really is the stuff of dreams.
How Much Does it Cost?
The Single Estates and all the blends are available on the Wee Tea Company Website, www.weeteacompany.com. To put the price of the Scottish Single Estate Teas in to context. Think of them as the equivalent of a good rare Single Malt Whiskey, or a Fine Wine. Scottish Tea is rare, grown in only a few places in Scotland, and if the Tasters are to be believed, amongst the finest teas in the World.