Susie now offers tea tours and tea tasting by appointment at Kinnettles and sells tea plants grown herself from seed on a commercial scale. She also works with a group of talented and highly skilled tea ladies - with the help of their tea gardens - across Scotland as part of the Tea Gardens of Scotland.
Once the ladies have hand plucked the buds and leaves from their crops for teacup-readiness, their yield is sent to the Scottish Tea Factory in Comrie Croft, just over an hour's drive from both Edinburgh and Glasgow. This is where the tea is processed, which is overseen by Beverly Wainwright. Beverly has been working in the tea industry for 10 years. Her journey started in Sri Lanka where she managed Amba tea estate, and after a string of awards she moved back to the UK where she went on to work as a consultant for the Tea Gardens of Scotland to help them establish their tea plants.
The tea process is slightly different in Scotland than it is in sunnier tea regions. There are lower light levels which affects the finished flavour. However, this is no challenge for Beverly, who dedicates late nights and early starts to ensuring the tea is perfect. Once it's ready, it is poured into one of our beautiful lilac caddies before arriving to our store.
Pinkie Methven's garden is situated in a previously abandoned walled garden in St Martin's Abbey, Perthshire that hadn't been used since WW1. Her family had grown Assam tea for generations, and she also experiments with growing fruit trees and berries. Catherine Drummond-Herdman's walled garden at Megginch Castle, with its strong scent of roses, laburnum-arched pathway and heritage varieties of apples and pears, has been well-loved since 1575.
Veronica Murray Poore's family connection with tea dates back to the 1920s. Her grandfather worked in the Far East, before purchasing their home in the outskirts of Crieff in the 1950s, complete with a steading and market garden. In 2017, Veronica planted 1,200 camelia sinensis seedlings in the ground of Broich Tea Garden, and the bushes are thriving in this very sheltered spot to this day with a sunny micro-climate.
Presiding over the beautiful private garden of Dollerie House is Lisa Dickson, who is specifically interested in growing tea and the social history of tea, and she has spent seven years working in India. She has planned an individual tea maze to enhance the garden for the long term and to be able to share it with like-minded people through tea tourism in the future.