Tea is not a native plant of America and its cultivation is a non-traditional agricultural activity in Argentina. Upto 1952, local tea consumption was met by import but scarcity of foreign exchange compelled to take up indigenous production. Cultivation and processing of tea developed in the 1950s as an extension of the mate industry. Tea is grown in the extreme north-eastern tip of the country in Misiones. Almost all of Argentina's tea-production comes from this area.
Tea was first grown in Durban Botanical Gardens in 1850, using plants imported from London's Kew Gardens. Commercial production began 27 years later using seeds from Assam. Production in Natal grew, then faltered by the middle of the twentieth century, and was revived during the 1960s.Tea cultivation in Argentina was started by introducing the Betjan jat, a variety of Assam tea. Between 1923 and 1930 four plantations were established at Tres Capones, Loreto, La Mered and Puerto Bomberg. Now, there are about 9,000 tea growers having holing size 10 to 50 ha or more. There are a few plantations of over 1000 ha.The total area under tea is about 44,000 ha.
Tea areas in Argentina range from 260 to 310S latitude at an elevation between 150 to 390 m. The existing tea population comprises all three types of plants viz., China type (25%), Assam type (17%) and Cambod type (78%).The harvesting (Zafra) of leaves takes place between October and April. Harvesting of leaves is fully mechanised. Tea is totally developed by the private sector in Argentina. The tea producers are not interested for tea now and want to replace it with other crops because they do not foresee any increase in production and improvement in quality of tea.