THOUSANDS of tea plants have been stolen from Scotland’s first plantation.

The raiders have repeatedly targeted a remote hillside site at Amulree, Perthshire, which supplies tea to the Dorchester Hotel and Fortnum and Mason in London.

The thieves are believed to be selling the plants to growers south of the Border. Tam O’Braan, owner of the Wee Tree Plantation, says that in the past he said he has to physically chase raiders off his land.

He is currently taking a break due to a work related-heart problem.

The Science and Advice unit of Scottish Agriculture (Saga) believes thousands of plants may have been stolen from the Wee Tree Plantation.

Produce from the Dalreoch Farm site has become the leaf of choice for some of the world’s most exclusive tea drinkers, as well as elite retailers and hotels in the UK, France and America.

Among the company’s other clients are the Lowell Hotel in New York. Mr O’Braan said: “I had to take time away from the business and was amazed people took advantage of this to steal our plants. It has shaken my faith.”