Tea drinking may not always be associated with Ireland, but this country has coveted a warm cuppa for decades. Typically Ireland is known for its fuller bodied, some might even say bolder, cup of tea. A dairy-loving country, it’s no wonder prized Darjeeling never really took off. In fact, most Irish tea comes from Africa. But what happened? How did Ireland become acquainted with African tea?
It was World War II and tea was become more challenging to import. Almost overnight, Ireland’s once plentiful tea supply drastically diminished. To avoid potential chaos and some very unhappy Irish, minister Sean LeMass set up a new importing agency: Tea Importers Ltd. These tea merchants were urged to get out and connect with the producers. Encouraged to direct trade, the Irish merchants discovered that Kenya held the perfect tea for the Irish palate. The lighter brews from India became a thing of the past and Ireland became known for its African blends.
In this Irish Times piece, Conor Pope delves into the history of Irish tea and how a journey into Africa unveiled the right tea for Ireland.