Traditional Flavour: Azorean Tea
The only place in Europe where the tea is grown is in the Azores. The soil and climate are ideal for tea and by the end of the 19th century fourteen tea factories were in operation. Nowadays only two are still in operation, Porto Formoso and Gorreana.
Although the same plant is grown to produce all the variants of tea, it's the process the leafs undergo that determines what type of tea is indeed made. Black tea is the major product but limited amount of green tea is also produced.
What to buy: To learn about the process of tea production, I visited Porto Formoso tea plantation and factory. They only produce black tea which comes in three grades: Orange Pekoe, Pekoe and Broken Leaf.
Since I wanted to buy green tea, we made a short stop at Gorreana. Their green tea is known as Hysson.
I bought two 100g packages of Hysson green tea and a package of traditional chocolate and coconut caramels Emanuel Casado from Furnas.
What to pay: they have the usual prices
- Arts and Culture
Centro Municipal de Apoio ao Artesanato: Arts and Crafts
Many traditional handicrafts can be found on the island, all using raw materials. You can not fail to see charming folk figures made from maize husks, wickerwork baskets, colourful ceramics from Lagoa or the picturesque clay pottery of Vila Franca do Campo, items from cut basalt, embroidery, delicate flowers made from fish scale, fig pith, paper or cloth, simple rugs made from maize or rags, and .
Centro Municipal de Apoio ao Artesanato is one of the nicest shops selling local arts and crafts that I came across during my visit of São Miguel. It is located in the Parque Natural da Ribeira de Caldeirões. I would not expect to find such shop in Nordeste, the area that is not very often visited by tourists.
What to buy: The shop offers a good selection of books about the Azores in Portuguese, English and German, postcards, fridge magnets, popular art (clay figurines, churches and objects with a religious significance) and folk figures made from maize husks.
I bought a nice book with photos from São Miguel (13,70 €), two fridge magnets (2,40 € and 2,90 €) and some postcards (3,20 €).
What to pay: the prices are very much fair and not overpriced as one would expect
- Arts and Culture
Tabacos Estrela: Hand rolled cigars
Please note, I'm not recommending smoking for anyone. However, this factory has been producing cigars for a century and you can see tobacco being cultivated on the S.Miguel island. But for the cigars, they use leaves imported from Cuba, Sumatra and Brazil.
What to buy: Box of 20 Coroa Regal cigars (18 cm) will cost about 82 eur and a box of the smaller Meia Coroa cigars will cost about 30 eur.
- Road Trip
Many different shops: Local stuff
The local tea, Cha Gorreana is a good pick to take home, for it's light to carry. The best quality of black tea is called "Orange Pekoe" and you know it from the red package. The second best is Pekoe (blue package), and the third quality is called Broken leaf. Moinha quality has a strong flavour but I think you can buy this at the Gorreana plant only. The green tea has just one quality, Hysson.
What to pay: The prices are slightly cheaper at the plant.
- Road Trip
- Food and Dining
What to buy: Traditional blue and white pottery. It is made in Lagoa, but you can buy it in shops in Ponta Delgada if you don't get to Lagoa.