When you think of tea-growing countries, Georgia and Azerbaijan might not immediately spring to mind.
But the two have a long history steeped in tea production dating back to the nineteenth century. By the 1980s, they were supplying most of the tea consumed in the then Soviet Union.
Their once-booming tea industries rapidly declined in the years following the Soviet collapse. Today, their combined production is not even 2 percent of their peak from the 1980s, as Georgian and Azerbaijani consumers have turned to less expensive, better quality imports.
In recent years, both countries – boasting ideal tea growing conditions and natural tea stock – have taken steps to revitalize their tea sectors.
With the right support, including public and private investment and the transfer of know-how, Georgian and Azerbaijani tea industries could see a revival. Their tea producers could carve out an interesting niche in a dynamic international tea market catering to consumers of quality organic, green, and specialty teas.
From field to cup
According to tea expert John Snell, “the tea bush survives for a century or more, and with care can be brought back into production, which is happening in both Georgia and Azerbaijan.”
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