A riverside tea garden in Cornwall designed to perfectly replicate conditions in Darjeeling is being harvested for the first time, writes Tom Bevan.

Staff at Tregothnan, England's only tea grower, have prided themselves on being the first in hundreds of years to grow a "classic British brew" on home soil.

The company sold its first batch in 2005 and has gone on to do the seemingly unthinkable - by exporting its tea to China.

But it has now reached another milestone after the first harvest of what it hopes will become its most productive growing area.

The bushes at Halwyn are expected to create Tregothnan's largest and most fruitful tea growing area.

It has been designed to create the same conditions as the famous tea-growing Indian district of Darjeeling.

The company says the hills roll gradually down towards the water's edge, creating perfect irrigation for the rows of tea with warm, moist and acidic soil.

The gardens, next to the River Fal in Cornwall, were planted five years ago but this year have been harvested for the first time.

South West Farmer:

A spokesperson for the company said: "Tregothnan Halwyn is immediately adjacent to the deepest part of the River Fal, which is one of the world's deepest sea creeks at 18 metre.

"This creates the perfect environment for tea growing as the ground is kept warm and moist, protecting the bushes from the effects of frost or snow.

"Tea thrives in this remarkably special microclimate thanks to the 18 metre deep sea creek keeping the temperature close to Darjeeling in India, all year round."

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Tregothnan's tea gardens at Halwyn were planted in 2015 and this year produced its first bumper crop.

The spokesperson added: "Tea bushes take approximately four to five years to mature and spread wide and sturdy.

"This creates a base of 'maintenance' leaves in order for the fresh young leaves to shoot on the top of the bushes. 2020 is the first season that Tregothnan Halwyn has been plucked from, producing a bumper crop."

Tregothnan is believed to be the first place to grow ornamental Camellias outdoors in Britain more than 200 years ago and is now the only place growing tea in England.

Tea was first developed commercially at the site from Camellia sinensis, the "Chinese tea plant", in 2001.

The first 'English tea' was then sold in November 2005 to Fortnum & Mason of Piccadilly.