July 29 (Tea anyone?): PART TWO

Driving back from our inaugural dip in Furnas’ warm, yellow pool, we decided to look for another Sao Miguel tourist attraction, the Gorreana tea estate, which, thanks to our inability to speak Portuguese, was quickly dubbed the ______ tea estate. (Interestingly enough, other tourists immediately understood where we had been when we used our new name for this location.)

We timed our arrival with that of a large tour bus

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and became part of a mob scene as the bus riders sampled the three types of tea, all produced without herbicides or other nasty elements.

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Women and girls use to hand-pick the leaves, which grew right around the plant;

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but now this task is performed by several men pulling a machine over the tops of the tea bushes.

Once harvested, the leaves are processed using old, but beautifully maintained, machines, such as this heater and dryer.

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Having been to a cheese cooperative and tuna factory, we expected the same level of glamorous plastic sheathing; so, we were taken aback when it seemed hairnets were the only concession to hygiene here.

Having read this industry employed a lot of manual labor, we saw women hand-sorting the leaves

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and then bagging them for sale.

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Being one of two remaining tea plantations on Sao Miguel (and, the only ones in the Azores), this began in 1874 with seeds from China. Due to the popularity of the tea, they later introduced plants from India. All are sold both here and abroad, with bags shipped to the Azoreans who emigrated.

We looked in the shop, along with the other 40+ visitors,

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but decided to stick to our coffee; yet, we enjoyed seeing this Azorean production still going strong over 100 years later.

On our way home, we saw a billboard and took a pic for Cam, Iain and Thomas,

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ending our day with dinner at our favorite Sao Miguel restaurant, Tasca, shared with Martin and Arnie with our waiter Bart.

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