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Monday, April 22, 2024

Visiting the Gorreana tea factory in São Miguel, Azores

The Gorreana tea factory and plantations are a not-to-miss thing to do on São Miguel Island in the Azores. Gorreana is currently the only tea plantation in Europe. São Miguel island is one of the few islands where tea grows. During your visit to Gorreana, you can learn about tea production, enjoy breathtaking views of the tea fields, try different local teas, and go on a hike.

A view of the Gorreana tea factory from the circular hiking trail through the plantations

What is the oldest tea plantation in Europe?

Chá Gorreana factory (Gorreana Tea) on São Miguel Island in the Azores is the oldest tea plantation in Europe. Cha Gorreana is currently the only tea plantation in Europe. This family business has a long history. The continuous tea production on Gorreana tea plantations started in 1883. The first tea seeds were brought to the island from Brazil in the early 19th century. By the middle of the 19th century, there were several tea plantations on the island.

A white bench by an old tree in the Gorreana tea plantations on São Miguel
Gorreana tea plantations look spectacular on a sunny day

When was tea introduced on São Miguel Island?

Tea was aimed to substitute orange production. Many of the orange plantations were destroyed by the blight in the early 19th century. Till then oranges were the main Azorian export and the blight was threatening to set an economic crisis on the islands. It was decided to introduce alternative crops that would do well in the humid climate in order to help local farmers. Tea was one of them. Other crops included tobacco, sweet potato, and pineapple.

The lack of knowledge of Azorean farmers in growing tea caused some struggles at the beginning. The Sociedade Promotora da Agricultura Micaelense (SPAM) invited a tea master, Lau-a-Pan, to teach local farmers the art of tea cultivation. And so the history of Azorean tea began.

By the end of the 19th century, due to major political and economic changes in Portugal, the Gorreana tea factory was the only one on the island that could maintain continuous production of tea.

Enjoying Gorreana tea on the terrace with the view over tea plantations
Drinking green tea with tea cookies on the terrace at the Gorreana tea factory

Where is the Gorreana tea factory?

Gorreana tea factory and plantations are located on the north coast of Sao Miguel Island, in the parish of Maia, 30 km from the capital city of Ponta Delgada. São Miguel is the main island of the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The factory is open to visitors daily: Mon – Fri from 8 am to 6 pm; Sat and Sun from 9 am to 6 pm.

How to get to the Gorreana tea plantations?

Driving is the best and easiest way of getting to the Cha Gorreana tea plantation from anywhere on the island. We rented a car at Ponta Delgada Airport on arrival and dropped it off on departure. It was easy and quick for us although it depends on the car provider and your arrival time. On our departure day in the morning around 8 am we saw many people at the car rental stalls at the airport.

It’s possible to visit the Gorreana tea factory with an organized tour. There are several tour options.

Gorreana tea plantations on São Miguel Island, Portugal
Different shades of green at the tea plantations on São Miguel Island

What kind of tea is Gorreana?

The factory produces 40 tons of tea per year. Since 1883 the Gorreana factory has been producing organic green and black tea. The factory produces different types of tea. The different varieties of black tea include Moinha, Broken Leaf, and Orange Pekoe. The main green tea varieties produced at Gorreana are Hysson and Encosta de Bruma. I prefer green tea and out of the different teas we tried Hysson was the best tea in my opinion.

What are the benefits of tea?

Black and green tea come from the same plant called Camellia Sinensis. The type of tea depends on the way the leaves are processed. All teas contain substances called polyphenols which are rich in antioxidants. Out of all teas, green tea has the highest concentration of antioxidants. Studies show that moderate consumption of tea can have some health benefits. Consumption of tea might help to reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, can help to control cholesterol levels, and help with weight management.

A spectacular view of the island from the tea plantations
Breathtaking scenery from the terrace at the Gorreana tea factory

Goreana factory tour

You can do a free factory tour at the Cha Gorreana to learn about tea cultivation and production. You can see the machinery that is used to make tea at the Gorreana factory and witness the process.

After the tour, you can enjoy a cup of tea at the cafe. Tea tasting is free. You can compliment your tea with one of the local sweets. We really liked their tea cookies. Green tea cookies with white chocolate were our favorites. You can buy Gorreana organic tea and other souvenirs at the factory gift shop. They sell tea bags and tea leaves in packs of different sizes.

The heart of the Gorreana factory the tea production sector
Some of the machinery used at the Gorreana factory to produce tea

Gorreana tea plantations hikes

Hiking in the tea fields of Gorreana is an incredible experience. The spectacular views of rolling hills covered in tea plantations surrounded by the ocean. There are two hiking trails at the Cha Gorreana factory: the Chá Gorreana circular trail (Pequenho rota circular – PRC28) and the Caminho da Agua da Gorreana trail (Trilho Municipal – TM05). During your visit, you can walk one of them or both if you have enough time.

Chá Gorreana circular trail

  • Distance – 3.6 km/2.2 mi
  • Time – between 1 hour and 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Ascent – ​​164 m
  • Descent – ​​169 m
  • Type – a circular trail that can be walked in either direction
  • Difficulty level – easy
  • Route marking – wooden poles with yellow and red stripes
Elevation profile of the Cha Gorreana hiking trail
Elevation profile of the Cha Gorreana trail on Sao Miguel Island

Chá Gorreana Trail is a beautiful route that goes through the Gorreana tea plantations offering stunning views of the tea fields and the coast. It’s an easy hike suitable for people with children. We walked it with our 1.5-year-old daughter. She even walked a kilometer or so but most of the way Campbell carried her in a backpack.

The Chá Gorreana Trail starts across the road from the Gorreana tea factory. There is no road crossing so you have to wait when there are no cars. The route is mostly on a wide gravel road with a little bit of a footpath. The beginning and the end of the trail are through tea plantations while the middle section is through a forest area.

Chá Gorreana Trail GPX

Campbell and Summer hiking at the Gorreana tea plantations
Campbell carrying Summer in a backpack on the Cha Gorreana circular trail

Caminho da Agua da Gorreana trail

  • Distance – 2 km/1.2 mi, return
  • Time – between 40 minutes and 1 hour
  • Ascent – ​​58 m
  • Descent – ​​58 m
  • Type – a linear trail
  • Difficulty level – easy
  • Route marking – wooden poles with

This trail is one of the hidden gems of the island. It’s a very short route but you get to see the tea plantations, the indigenous forest of the Azores Islands, and a beautiful waterfall. The best thing about the trail is that it’s very quiet. Most visitors do the circular route through the tea plantations and not many hike this trail. This trail is very short and easy and it goes through the Goreana tea plantations as well. If you don’t have time to do the circular hike you can just quickly do this one.

Caminho da Agua da Gorreana trail GPX

Forest scenery on the hiking trail at the tea plantations on São Miguel
A waterfall at the end of the short hiking trail at the Gorreana

Are there other tea factories on the island of São Miguel?

There are two tea factories on São Miguel Island the Gorreana tea factory and the Porto Formoso tea factory. The second one is less known there for visited by fewer tourists. The Porto Formoso factory is located in the same area in the north of São Miguel, just 2 km away from the Gorreana factory. Unlike the Gorreana the Porot Formoso was closed between 1980 and 2001 when it was reopened as a tea factory again. They offer guided tours and tea tastings. The factory is open for visitors Mon to Sat from 9 am to 6 pm (5 pm in the winter).

The infinity pool at Pedras do Mar Hotel on São Miguel Island
The infinity pool at our hotel near the Gorreana tea plantation

Best places to stay near the Gorreana tea plantations

We stayed for 3 nights at Pedras do Mar Resort & Spa and really enjoyed the place. It is 24 km/15 mi away from the Gorreana tea factory. The hotel has good facilities, the rooms are spacious and the staff is helpful. We (especially our daughter) loved the indoor heated pool where we spent hours every day. The outside infinity pool looks amazing as well but it was too chilly and windy to use it. The continental breakfast was great. The food at the hotel restaurant was very good. Live music every second night is a bonus. I’d recommend booking a room with a sea view.

Check the rates and book your room at Pedras do Mar Resort & Spa

There are many great places to stay in that part of São Miguel

| Casa do Mar | Quinta de Santana | Hotel Verde Mar & SPA |

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