What is Tea?


We've spent more than 180 years crafting the perfect cuppa! So we know a thing or two about tea

Where does tea come from?


Tea plants flourish in warm, moist climates and can grow 20 feet high if left unchecked. There was a time when all our black tea came from China, but not anymore!

Our experienced buyers work closely with thousands of tea gardens in over 20 different countries to select the very best tea leaves out there. The finest tea is grown in sunny climates and at high altitudes, with the tea plants trimmed to only three to four feet in height. The largest producers of tea leaves are Kenya, Sri Lanka, India, and China, but tea is grown wherever there is a healthy amount of rain and sunshine.


At Tetley, we have been making tea since 1837, so we know a thing or two about how to make the perfect cup. For us, it is about helping to create a thriving, global tea industry that is socially fair and environmentally sustainable. That is why we are founder members of the Ethical Tea Partnership and source 100% of our tea from Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM gardens.

The journey to your cup begins in tea gardens around the world, where Tetley tea is made from the young leaves and unopened buds of the plant, Camellia sinensis. We grow and buy tea from all across the world to get that lovely, full-bodied flavour that’s unique to Tetley.

Before landing on a shelf at your local store, each Tetley blend undergoes a crucial four-stage journey from crop to cup. The key ingredients are care and attention – after all, that’s what goes into making a great quality cup of tea. The tea farmers and tea pickers take great pride in getting the best tea leaves for your brew


    Most of our teas come from the following regions


    • Kenya - Most teas are grown in the highlands of the Great Rift Valley that runs through Kenya. The most prized teas come from around Mount Kenya. Grown at high altitudes, these teas are super sparkly and full of flavor.
    • Malawi - Known as the warm heart of Africa, the soil in this country is beautiful, vibrant, red color. This produces the most richly colored teas in the world.
    • China - The Chinese are experts in white, green and oolong teas. Each region has its own unique style, with closely guarded secrets passed down through generations. It would be impossible to taste all of the tea in China!
    • Ceylon - This tropical island produces some beautiful teas – floral, fruity and smooth; it is grown high above sea level in the mountainous misty forests.
    • Darjeeling - Grown in the foothills of the Himalayas, teas here are delicate and peachy. In fact, they are often referred to as the champagne of teas.
    • Assam - Teas grown in the lush Brahmaputra valley of Northern India are rich, malty, brisk and full-bodied – perfect to wake you up in the morning.
    • Indonesia - These islands in South East Asia produce naturally spicy teas that take flavor well, perfect for Earl Grey blends.
    • Argentina - This hot and humid region produces mild teas with clear and bright liquors, perfect for Iced Tea!

    Types of tea

    Tea can be grouped into four major types, according to the degree of oxidation or exposure to air


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    Black Tea

    Strong in flavour, the black tea leaves are withered, rolled, oxidized and dried for a bright copper colour.

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    Green Tea

    Extremely popular in China and Japan, green tea leaves are free from the oxidation process.

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    White Tea

    White tea, which is again non-oxidized, features young or minimally processed Camellia sinensis leaves.


    Oolong Tea

    Oolong tea is semi-oxidized, and the leaves have a distinct greenish brown colour.

    Why do we blend tea?

    Most people don't realize that blending tea is a fine art, similar to blending champagne or whiskey. At Tetley, our team of blenders have over 1,000 years combined tea experience, so they know a thing or two about blending!

    Tetley has been sourcing the highest quality teas for over 180 years. Our professional tea tasters, based in 7 countries around the world, have over 1000 years’ worth of experience and we believe that our expertise is second to none. An interesting fact is that around 165 million cups of tea are being consumed in UK every day – that is nearly enough to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools! 90% of the tea we drink in Britain is actually a tea blend, containing a variety of different sourced teas. Tea is often sold at auctions, where our expert buyers and tasters go to assess the quality and select the best for our Tetley blends.

    Every blend is tasted at least eight times before it can be judged to be of Tetley quality! We have over 60 different types of Tetley tea blends, and it takes more than five years to become a qualified Tetley Tea Master. Since no one tea crop is ever the same, tea tasting is a continuous learning process.

    Over the years, we have developed our own unique tea tasting language called “Uhuru.” It is a global language that allows Tetley tasters and blenders to describe and grade the quality of the teas.



    The main factors that we consider while assessing our teas are

    The Leaf

    Our tasters examine and grade the leaf density, colour, and record the shape, form and size of the leaf.

    The Liquid

    Our tasters assess the following factors of a tea liquid:

    1. Sparkle - purity of the colour

    2. Colour – from deep rich red up to light  and yellow

    3. Body - the weight of the tea in the mouth

    4. Zing - overall liveliness of the tea on the palate

    Apart from black and green teas, our expert blenders have managed to create a wide range of herbal teas that suit any occasion. Encompassed by the aromatic and flavourful tastes of nature – Roots, leaves, seeds, flowers, spices, berries and herbs – We have devised some wonderful combinations. Rich in fragrance and flavour, these refreshing elixirs are an embodiment of our expertise and undying dedication. These herbal blends contain no caffeine and ensure that you get drawn into the world of Tetley goodness!