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Europe’s Oldest Tea Farm

Europe’s Oldest Tea Farm

Text by Sharon McDonnell
Photography Courtesy of Azores Promotion Board, visitazores.com

Treasure in the Azores

The oldest continuously operating tea plantation in Europe is in the Azores, a chain of nine volcanic islands in the Atlantic that are part of Portugal, yet 900 miles west of the mainland. A wondrous, pristine place packed with odd surprises, the islands abound in steep coastal cliffs, checkerboards of emerald-green pastures, jewel-like lakes in collapsed volcano craters, hot springs, waterfalls, and misty landscapes. In May, blue and pink hydrangeas blanket the islands. Despite its seeming remoteness, the Azores is actually the closest part of Europe to the United States—a mere 5-hour flight from Boston (or a 2 1⁄2-hour flight from Lisbon) to Ponta Delgada, the largest city, on São Miguel, the biggest island.

From purple tea to pineapple farms, from meals cooked underground by hot springs to jewelry and art made from fish scales, dyed, sewn with gold or silver thread, and often set with pearls into flower shapes (a craft called escamas de peixe), the Azores can be expected to serve up the unexpected. It’s no surprise they were named Europe’s leading adventure travel destination in…

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