How tea arrived in Turkey

At the end of the 19th century, the first planting trials were carried out in the region of Bursa, around 90 kilometres south of Istanbul, but they failed due to the unsuitable climate. Ali Riza Erten, professor and acting director of the Halkali Agricultural School, quickly found an alternative: in a report, he described how the eastern Black Sea region had the same ecology as Batumi in Georgia, which was known for its highly profitable tea cultivation.

This report served as the basis for the first tea act enshrined in law by the Turkish National Assembly in 1924. The agricultural engineer Zihni Derin was sent to the Black Sea region to organise and implement the next steps. He began by developing research gardens and nurseries. Later, he imported tried-and-tested seeds from Georgia. Derin, known as the ‘father of tea’, sold the tea seedlings to local farmers. In 1947, the time had finally come: the first tea factory was inaugurated in Rize.