Although probably best known for its coffee, Java also produces tea and, including the rest of Indonesia, exports nearly 170,000 tons per year.
Tea was fast planted in Java by the Dutch East India Company in 1684. Using seeds of the Camellia sinensis var. sinensis plant brought from Japan. Although a handful of tea gardens grew, the Dutch realised that the cultivar used wouldn’t easily grow in the soil and climate of Java. They obtained and planted seeds from the Assam plant (Camellia sinensis var. assamica) and the tea gardens started to flourish and tea production exploded.
At the start of World War II Indonesia was the fourth largest producer of tea but the war caused the industry to suffer and it wasn’t until the 1980’s when new programs were put in place to kick start tea production again.
Tea production in Java is concentrated in the West Highlands. This mountainous region has rich, volcanic soil and with a tropical climate allows tea to grow year round with the best harvest coming in the summer months.
Java primarily produces black tea, although green teas are produced in lesser quantity. The finest Indonesian teas are made using the orthodox method but Java also produces a large amount of cut-tear-curl processed tea which is predominately used in tea blends and tea bags.
As well as their black teas, Java is known for the herbal tea known as Java tea (or Ocimum Aristatum). Produced from the Orthosiphon stamineus, or Ororthosiphon Aristatus, plant and known as East Indian mint, this herbal tea is often used to treat kidney problems, gallstones and gout and due to its diuretic properties is used as a cleanser to flush out toxins and impurities from the body, and is known to help with irrigation therapy and dealing with bladder and kidney issues like kidney stones. Java tea also helps increase the loss of water passed through uring, meaning it has a diuretic effect on the body.