Company Spotlight: Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea

Most people know about the high quality coffee that the South American country of Colombia is known for producing, but not so many people, including those in the tea drinking community, know of one particular Colombian estate growing and manufacturing some phenomenal green and black teas. Without further ado, I am happy to introduce you to Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea.

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Bitaco Tea Factory – Photo used with permission from Bitaco Tea

The Bitaco tea estate and factory is located along the Andes Mountains, near the Bitaco Regional Forest Reserve, in the bio-geographical region of Choco. The tea is grown at an elevation of over 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) above sea level, the ground consisting of nutrient-rich volcanic soil. The estate consists of 51 hectares (126 acres) of land under tea cultivation. The Google map below shows the approximate location of Bitaco.

Building on 55 years of experience in the Colombian tea industry, the Agricola Himalaya S.A. company began developing Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea in 2013. The intent was to manufacture the best quality loose leaf teas in the most modern, high-tech factory in South America. Since then, the estate and factory have obtained USDA Organic certification and UTZ certification, while developing a high quality line of unblended black and green teas, and blended varieties.

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Bitaco Tea Estate – Photo used with permission from Bitaco Tea

Currently, Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea is exported to the U.S.A., Germany, England, and France. As mentioned above, the current offerings include the following styles of unblended black tea: tippy, wiry, and leafy. They also offer blends of black tea with some rather delicious ingredients, like the Cacao Kisses (black tea, cacao husks, cacao nibs), Andean Princess (black tea, isabella grape skin, Andean raspberries, hibiscus petals), and Coffee Kisses (black tea, Arabica coffee beans).

Also available are the following unblended green tea styles: needles, wiry, and leafy. Blended green tea products include the Mist Forest (green tea, pear guava, soursop), and Tropical Charming (green tea, lulo, starfruit, mango). Either of these sound pretty amazing as an iced tea. It’s finally getting sunny and warm here in Pittsburgh, so dreams of sipping iced tea on a hot day should soon be a reality.

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Fresh Plucked Bitaco Tea Leaves – Photo used with permission from Bitaco Tea

In addition to creating organic, world class loose leaf tea, Bitaco Tea and Agricola Himalaya also strive to be pillars of their environmental and social communities. The Agricola Himalaya Foundation was created to help local children have better educational opportunities, as well as improve the local infrastructure, culture, and technology.

You can keep up to date on all things Bitaco by following them on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Thank you for taking your time to learn more about Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea. Many thanks to the management at Bitaco for providing samples. These will be my first Colombian tea experiences, and I am excited to get to them! Looks for reviews on many of these products in the near future.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Cheers!

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Company Spotlight: Araksa Tea Garden in Chiang Mai, Thailand

It is my sincere pleasure to introduce you to Araksa Tea Garden, located in the Mae Taeng district, Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Google map below shows the location of Araksa Tea Garden.

Araksa Tea Garden is a beautiful estate consisting of 45 hectares (111 acres) of land under tea cultivation. The estate grows Camellia Sinensis Assamica tea bushes, and the current bushes are said to be 40 to 70 years old. The average elevation of the garden is 550 meters (1,800 feet) above sea level.

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Assamica Tea Bush – Photo used with ownership permission from Araksatea.com Gallery

The tea garden was originally founded in 1939, and among the first tea factories in Thailand was established. The estate began growing the Assamica tea bushes is 1941, then consisting of 20 hectares (50 acres). After some years, the garden changed ownership, and was not maintained for over two decades. Again in 2014, the ownership changed to it’s current owners, who have taken great care to restore the garden.

Due to the length of time that the garden went untouched, and because the current ownership believes in environmentally responsible farming practices, the tea bushes have not been directly exposed to chemicals for decades. Together with the elevation of the garden, the high quality soil, and filtered mountain valley water, Araksa Tea Garden is beginning to produce some very high quality teas. The garden is currently in the process of obtaining USDA Organic and EU Organic certifications.

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Fresh Picked Assamica Tea Leaves – Photo used with ownership permission from Araksatea.com Gallery

In addition to environmental responsibility, Araksa Tea Garden also focuses on social responsibility in the community. This includes buying as many resources as possible from local farmers and businesses, employing locals and providing training, rewarding employees based on skills and performance, and sponsoring teachers in mountainous areas to promote education for children in remote villages.

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Hand-harvesting Tea Leaves – Photo used with ownership permission from Araksatea.com Gallery

Currently, Araksa Tea Garden produces green tea, black tea, white tea, and herbal teas, such as lemongrass and butterfly pea. The teas are hand-picked, manually roasted, and hand-rolled. I will be posting reviews of the Preserve Green Tea, the Silk Tea, the Cha Yen Black Tea, the White Tea, and the Bluefly Herbal Tea. Yes, the Bluefly Herbal Tea is interesting enough to warrant a review. Even my six year old son loved the Bluefly Herbal Tea. As of this post, Araksa only sells their products in their brick-and-mortar tea shop, so I feel quite fortunate to have an opportunity to try these teas.

Araksa Tea Garden offers guided, hands-on tours of the estate, which demonstrates how leaves are grown, harvested, and processed. They also offer a beautiful setting for business or personal events.

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Looks Like a Beautiful Place to Enjoy Some Great Tea! – Photo used with ownership permission from Araksatea.com Gallery

You can keep up-to-date on all things Araksa by following them on Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you for taking your time to learn more about the Araksa Tea Garden. I hope to post a review of the Preserve Green Tea tomorrow. Many thanks to the management at Araksa for their generosity in sending the samples. I am truly looking forward to experiencing these unique teas!

Company Spotlight: Zealong Tea Estate in New Zealand

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Zealong Tea Estate, the only commercial tea estate operated in the entire country of New Zealand.

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Zealong Sculpture – Photo Courtesy of Zealong.Com Website

This beautiful, organic tea estate is located in Hamilton, Waikato region, New Zealand. It currently consists of about 1.2 million tea bushes spread over 40 hectares (about 100 acres) of land. The Google map below shows the approximate location of Zealong Tea Estate.

The estate grounds were used as a dairy farm before being purchased and repurposed around 1996. Only about 130 tea plants were originally planted, and now the number has grown to about 1.2 million, as noted above. The leaves are hand-picked by estate workers, then produced into green, black, and oolong styles of finished tea. About 20 tonnes of finished tea are produced each year, all from three short harvest seasons. Information is forthcoming regarding the cultivar types being propagated at the estate.

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Zealong Tea Estate – Photo Courtesy of Zealong.Com Website

In addition to the classic, unblended, and all organic Green, Black, and Aromatic (or Oolong) styles of tea offered by Zealong Tea Estate, unique blends of Zealong tea leaves and herbs sourced elsewhere are created, with names such as Ice Breaker, Fire and Ice, Lady Gatsby, and Green Heart. They also offer more well-known, famous blends such as Earl Grey and Chai. All of these products can be found at the Zealong Shop website, or at the beautiful brick and mortar tea shop at the Zealong Tea Estate (photo below). The Green Tea, Black Tea, and Aromatic Tea will all be reviewed on this blog in the near future.

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Retail Tea Shop at Zealong Tea Estate – Photo Courtesy of Zealong.Com Website

Growing and producing high quality organic tea is not the only operation that Zealong Tea Estate excels at. The estate offers a fine dining experience with tea infused menu options, beautiful meetings rooms for private events, as well as a tea ceremony and tea tasting with each guided tour. Looking at the Zealong.com gallery, I can imagine spending a lot of time creating some unforgettable memories at this place. It looks amazing!

Zealong’s tea products can be found in places other than New Zealand, of course, with distributors located in United Kingdom, Germany, Czech Republic, China, and New Caledonia. If these are not convenient options for you, do not let that stop you from trying these teas! Check out their online shop on the Zealong website.

All photos used on this page were found at the Zealong.com website, in the gallery, and are property thereof.