Tea cultivation has been a significant part of Mauritian culture since the French colonial period. Today, the island still boasts over 700 hectares of tea plantations, producing a range of flavors to cater to different tastes.
History of Tea in Mauritius
In 1760, Father Galloys, a French priest, introduced the tea plant Camellia Sinensis to Mauritius. In 1770, Pierre Poivre, a famous French horticulturist and botanist, planted tea on a large scale. During the 19th century, tea cultivation increased when Mauritius became a British colony, and Robert Farquhar, the Governor of Mauritius, encouraged tea cultivation for commercial purposes. However, the plantation was abandoned when he left. Seventy years later, Sir John Pope Hennessy revived tea cultivation in Mauritius, particularly at Nouvelle France and Chamarel.
Tea Production Process
Women can be seen in tea fields picking tea leaves at dawn and only removing the first two or three leaves. The tea is then transported to the manufacturer, first dried and wilted for two days, and then fermented at room temperature for an hour and a half. The leaves are then heated at 110°C for 10 minutes to stabilize the tea, sorted, and left to macerate for a month. Finally, essential oils such as vanilla are added to flavor the tea. This process takes place during the hottest periods of the year, from November to April.
In addition to the classic vanilla tea flavor, Mauritius has developed over 50 different tea flavors, such as “Dité Banané,” which is a mix of Mauritian black tea, orange peel, peppermint, and thyme flavors, and “Sorbet Coco,” a blend of shredded coconut, coconut flakes, and Mauritian black tea.
Importance of Tea in Mauritius
Tea is a vital part of the Mauritian culture. It is customary for Mauritians to offer tea when visitors come over at any time of the day. The island’s most popular tea brands are Bois Cheri, Corson, and La Chartreuse. Bois Cheri has 42 kinds of tea, six of which are flavored, Corson has seven blends and 15 flavored teas, and Chartreuse has two teas, one of which is flavored. The average consumption of tea in Mauritius is one kilo per head.
Tea’s Health Benefits
Tea is a popular beverage in Mauritius, and its consumption has many benefits. It can inhibit cancer development, reduce the risks of developing heart diseases, and is an excellent way to lose weight. Drinking tea frequently boosts metabolism.
Tea is an integral part of Mauritian culture and a thriving industry on the island. From its rich history to its variety of flavors, tea in Mauritius continues to attract tea lovers worldwide.