Steeped In Tradition: Visiting A Tea Plantation In The Azores
The Azores islands are full of amazing and interesting things to see and do—full of stunning scenery, super nice locals, myriad outdoor activities, and more. They also boast the only two tea plantations in Europe, located just minutes apart.
So today we talk about visiting Cha Gorreana Tea Plantation in the Azores!
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The tea fields of Gorreana are (along with their neighbor, Porto Formoso Tea Plantation) unique to Europe. The climate on the Azores is great for cultivating tea, and nowhere else in Europe can support it.
If you’re looking into guided tour options on São Miguel that will allow you to see lots of different things in one day, many of them include a stop at Cha Gorreana so you’d be covered there. But it’s also SUPER easy to visit on your own if you have a car.
Renting a car and driving in the Azores is super easy. I used DiscoverCars to book all three rental cars across the islands and would highly recommend them…good rates, no hassle, and they found me an automatic when no one else could. I also always compare RentalCars.com.
One important note…I kept seeing that the tea plantations were in Ponta Delgada. This is definitely not true. There’s some kind of weird Google Maps listing in Ponta Delgada, but the Cha Gorreana Tea Plantation is about a 30-minute drive from the city, up on the central north coast. You need a car, taxi, or tour to reach it.
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São Miguel has a longstanding history with tea. The first tea seeds arrived from Brazil in early 19th century, and tea has been grown here ever since the mid-1800s.
There is one other tea plantation on São Miguel, which is very nearby Cha Gorreana. I didn’t get a chance to visit, but Porto Formoso Tea Plantation offers a similar experience (free 10-minute guided tour with a complimentary cup of tea at the end).
The two are only a couple minutes’ drive apart so it’s easy to visit both. If you have to pick just one, I think Cha Gorreana has the nice tea shop and baked goods (which was the major selling point for me). Porto Formoso is supposed to have a bit better scenery and has a smaller parking lot so doesn’t get the tour buses.
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I was staying in a beautiful, unique apartment about 10 minutes from the plantation, and my main first reason for visiting was that it was the nearest option for coffee and baked goods. #priorities
I arrived between 8:30 and 9:00am and it was pretty quiet, but by the time I was leaving around 9:30am it was getting pretty busy and parking was getting hard to find.
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I started in the cafe, which has coffee and (of course) different tea options, as well as a number of baked goods. I got one of every kind of pastry (haha, I just can’t help myself) and a piece of the pineapple cake (which was a bit dry except the outside soaked in fruit and syrup, which was delish).
I also ordered one of each kind of tea cookies to eat later. These are cookies actually made with different kinds of tea, and they ended up bineg AMAZING. They’re a tiny bit dry (on purpose) and intended to be eaten with tea or coffee, but so incredibly flavorful.
Some of the flavors included things like “green tea with hibiscus, peanut, & blackberry jam”, “black tea with bergamot & double dark chocolate”, and “lemon verbena, apple, & cinnamon”. Just…wow.
There’s also a decent-sized gift shop here where you can buy Gorreana’s teas, tea-making gadgets, and other Azores souvenirs.
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Cha Gorreana is a small plantation with a lot still done manually. You can do a self-guided tour of the factory (you won’t learn anything, but can see the various machines and steps in the process) or a free guided tour (I recommend giving a small tip!).
In both cases you can see how the harvested tea is further processed. I quickly walked around the factory just to get a feel for it, then moved on. But one thing that really stuck with me was how AMAZING it smells! The rich fragrance of the dried tea made me so happy. Not like the stale, dull nonsense we find in our grocery stores.
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I loved the views that surrounded Gorreana, sweeping across the tea fields toward the ocean, a sea of green punctuated by intense pops of purple from the flowers.
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Beyond the factory, you can walk the tea fields as well. Cha Gorreana is a fully working plantation, and you can cross the road and wander the rows of tea plants.
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The terraced rows of plants are really pretty, and what was crazy and a little confusing was that the bushes kind of look and smell just like any ornamental shrub in my front garden! I would literally have never guessed they were tea plants.
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I came back the next morning for coffee as well, and soaked up the floral views one last time before moving on.
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Visiting a tea plantation in Sao Miguel is a must-do if you’re visiting the island, and doesn’t have to take a long time…you can be in and out in 30 minutes, with a greater appreciation for this beautiful process!
Where to stay in Sao Miguel: I stayed in a beautiful, unique apartment on the north-central coast for most of my visit. I also stayed on the outskirts of Ponta Delgada on my last night before my flight home at the awesome Praia de Santos. I wanted to stay at Casa de Palmeiras or this stunning Santa Barbara eco resort, but they weren’t available my dates.
Other deep-dive foodie travel adventures you’ll love:
- Cocoa-Scented Dreams: A Chocolate Tour In Costa Rica
- Boyne Valley Cheese: Visiting A Creamery In Slane, Ireland
- World-Famous Latte Art: Visiting Vannelli Pasticceria In Camucia
- 10+ Of The Best (Lesser-Known) Wine Regions To Visit
- Why You Have To Visit A Coffee Farm In Colombia
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