Profile: Peterston Tea Estate, Vale Of Glamorgan, Wales
In 2014, Lucy George transitioned from harvesting strawberries to growing tea on her family farm — now known as the Peterston Tea Estate — in the Vale of Glamorgan, near Cardiff, Wales. What started as an experimental project soon became many thousands of plants. These were grown from seed, so it is a long process – around four years before it is ready to be picked. While tea bushes usually thrive in warmer conditions than in Wales, Lucy has made it work by sheltering the plants under polytunnels.
The harsh climate stresses the tea plants — resulting in more complex flavors.
Growing tea here is not exactly straightforward – our climate is quite challenging, and conditions are distinctly marginal – but it is possible, and with much patience, learning, and nurturing, we are successfully producing very special, completely unique, award-winning tea…and kombucha!
The process is necessarily labor-intensive. They handpick the leaves, process, package, and ship the teas to a minimal number of people.
We’re on to the second pick of the second flush… a fairly huge (for Welsh tea) amount coming through and we won’t lie… are currently questioning our sanity for handpicking it all…with just two of us.
I heard about this unique business when they were featured on the BBC Radio 4 Food Program.
Lucy decided last year to use her own teas to produce Peterston Kombucha. They use the broken leaves and ‘shoulder season’ teas as the basis of their kombucha. She drew on her home brewing experience and scaled up to stainless steel containers.
This is small-scale, selective production in batches of 300 liters. They sell their ‘original’ blends in glass bottles and use fruits grown on the farm to flavor the cans of raspberry fig leaf and yuzu.
The lightly toasted green tea (Tost) and black (Du) are named from the Welsh terms for ‘toasted’ and ‘black.’
Their loose-leaf teas and kombucha are available via mail from their website. The prestigious Fortnum & Mason shop in Piccadilly, London stocks the teas.
Listen to the podcast to hear Lucy tell the Peterston story,