Indonesian Tea

The Republic of Indonesia is composed of 17,508 islands in southeast Asia (Yes, 17 THOUSAND. - 6,000 are inhabited) in the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. The name comes from Latin and Greek origins, meaning India Islands. The different islands each have their own identities and cultures, with more than 300 ethnicities and 740 languages and dialects. The largest ethnic group are the Javanese - 130 million people live on Java. Indonesia's population is the 4th largest in the world, topping 222 million people. Its closest neighbors include Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Australia. The official language is Indonesian and the capital is Jakarta.

The majority of the country (86% of the population) is Muslim. In addition to Islam, other major religions include Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. There are 7 provinces in all: Java, Sumatra, the Lesser Sunda Islands, Kalimantan (part of Borneo), Sulawesi, Maluku Islands, and Papua. Archaeological evidence of Homo erectus, known as Java Man, suggests life on Indonesia dates back at least 500,000 years and possibly as far as 2 million years ago.

Economy: Much of the country's economy depends on the service sector/tourism. Agriculture is the largest employer, however. Indonesia's major industries and agricultural products include petroleum and natural gas, textiles, palm oil, rubber, and of course, coffee, spices, and tea.

Climate/Topography: Indonesia is the 2nd most biodiverse country in the world (after Brazil). More than 60% of the country is forested and there are 50,000 miles of coastline. You can find sand dunes, beaches, forests, mangroves, coral reefs, tidal basins, and more. The country's flora, fauna and animal life come from both Asian and Australian influences. Earthquakes (and resulting tsunamis) and volcanic activity are common as it sits on the edges of several tectonic plates. There are more than 150 active volcanoes. The average humidity is more than 80%, making it well suited to tea growing. The temperature in the capital stays in the low to mid-80s year round. You will find very distinct monsoon seasons and dry seasons there.

Tea: Tea has been grown in Indonesia since 1684 when the Dutch East India Company brought it to Sumatra. (The China variety of plants were introduced first, but the Assam plants were more successful. Those were introduced in 1878.) Indonesian teas were popular in Europe until WWII. Japan invaded the island in 1942 because the location was important strategically. By the end of the war, the tea factories had been destroyed and the plants were in poor shape. The country made a commitment to resurrecting it and by the 1980s Indonesian tea was becoming a contender. Tea production has been growing rapidly. From 2004 to 2005 they experienced an 8.9% increase in exports. They were responsible for more than 7% of tea exports.

The main tea growing regions in Indonesia are Java and Sumatra. Tea in Java is generally grown in the western mountains. Tea is harvested year round, but the best quality Java tea is harvested during the dry season - July through September. Sumatra's tea is more consistent year round. Many compare Indonesian black tea to a high altitude Ceylon tea - light and flavorful.

Most of the tea from Indonesia has been used for blending, although it is becoming more available as a specialty item. They have just introduced some CTC teas in addition to their orthodox teas. They started producing green tea in the 1980s and it now composes more than 60% of their production.

This article was taken from TEA PAGES. Read the original article