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Britain's Great Love Affair with Kenyan Tea: Why UK Tea Brands Rely on Kenyan CTC Tea

Updated: Jun 28

Kenya and the UK share a long history, one of which is a special relationship between Kenyan tea and the British population

Kenyan CTC Tea: The Backbone of UK's Top Tea Brands' Signature Blends

For a rich tea base, 7 out of 10 of the UK’s best-selling tea brands buy Kenyan tea as an essential ingredient. We explore the significance of Kenyan CTC tea in producing tea bag blends that your customers will fall in love with.

Most of Kenya's tea exports to traditional destinations like Pakistan, Egypt, and UAE are for transit trade. However, in the UK, tea is not just a beverage but a way of life. With its strong flavour, colour, and aroma, Kenyan tea has conquered the British teacup, satisfying the population’s consumption of 100 million cups a day.

Due to this high demand and a well-documented political and economic history between the two countries, UK-based multinational companies have expanded their trading arms to Kenya for decades.

Why Brits Love Kenyan Tea

Kenya is Britain's largest supplier of black tea from a single origin. To understand why, let's examine the top 10 UK tea brands. Our research found that only three brands did not source any Kenyan tea in their products, whether as single-origin or for blending purposes. TeaPigs sources from India and Rwanda, Tick Tock tea specializes in Rooibos from South Africa, and Pukka’s English Breakfast ingredients come from India and Bangladesh.

British consumers have developed a deep appreciation for Kenyan tea for several reasons, including its quality, flavour profile, consistency, and economic factors.

Here are some of the key reasons why British tea drinkers love Kenyan tea:

1. Rich Flavour and Strong Aroma

Kenyan tea is renowned for its robust flavour and brisk aroma. This distinct taste appeals to the British palate, which favours strong and full-bodied tea blends, making Kenyan tea an excellent base for popular British tea blends.

2. Consistent Quality

The optimal growing conditions in Kenyan highlands, including rich volcanic soil, ample rainfall, and equatorial sunshine, ensure consistent quality throughout the year. This consistency is crucial for maintaining the standards of popular British tea brands.

3. High Levels of Antioxidants

Kenyan tea is high in antioxidants, particularly polyphenols, which are beneficial for health. These compounds help reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease and other ailments. Health-conscious consumers in the UK appreciate these benefits, contributing to the popularity of Kenyan tea.

4. Suitability for Blending

Kenyan tea’s strong and brisk nature makes it ideal for blending. Many of the UK’s best-selling tea brands use Kenyan tea as a base, ensuring the final product has a balanced and desirable flavor profile that meets British consumers' expectations.

Some of the frequently highlighted Kenyan tea benefits by experienced UK-based international tea blenders include:

Twinings notes the "beautiful deep red liquor with robust, full-bodied flavor" of Kenyan tea, emphasizing its suitability for blends​ 
Clipper Teas describe Kenyan teas as having a "delicious, fresh briskness and a bright coppery golden colour" highlighting the appealing characteristics that make them popular in the UK market​ 

5. Market Demand and Consumer Preferences

The British market consumes a significant amount of tea. The consistency and reliability of Kenyan tea production mean that it can continually meet the high demands of British consumers.

6. Competitive Pricing

Kenyan tea offers good value for money. Despite the relatively high cost of production, the efficiency and scale of Kenyan tea production enable competitive pricing, making it an attractive option for both consumers and businesses looking to offer quality tea at reasonable prices.

7. Industry Achievements and Certification

Kenyan tea factories, suppliers, and exporters align with standardization and certification processes regulated by bodies such as EATTA and AFA. Many producers also participate in international schemes like Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade ensuring high standards and ethical practices.

8. Economic and Historic Ties

The UK and Kenya have a long-standing economic and historical relationship, partly due to colonial history. This established trade relationship has made it easier for Kenyan tea to enter the British market. Moreover, multinational tea companies based in the UK have invested heavily in Kenyan tea plantations, ensuring a steady supply.

9. A Perfect Fit for Every Taste in the UK

In the UK, Kenyan tea caters to all preferences – whether it’s a robust brew of black tea commonly enjoyed by the working class or a refined cup of unbroken leaf Kenyan Orthodox Tea savored by those further up the social ladder. This versatility makes it a favourite across different social strata.

10. Environmental Sustainability

Kenyan tea plantations often employ sustainable farming practices, minimizing pesticide use and promoting biodiversity. This environmental consciousness resonates with British consumers who are increasingly concerned about the sustainability and ethical sourcing of their products.

Boris Johnson shows gratitude to Kenya for its role in the UK tea trade in his opening speech at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London

Post-Brexit, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson emphasized the UK's reliance on international trade with Kenya, even for tea. During the UK-Africa Investment Summit in 2020, he highlighted Kenya's role in the UK tea trade.

“I’m told that probably partly as a result of what is going on in Mombasa half of all the tea drunk in the UK comes to us from Kenya. Think of that. Britain without a nice cup of tea is barely worth thinking about, and that means Britain without Kenya is barely worth thinking about. Literally sustained, kept sane and rational throughout the day by infusions of Kenyan supply tea.” Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister.

Showcasing AKINA, a High-Quality Kenyan Tea Brand:

In April 2022, we had the honour of presenting our top Kenyan tea brand, AKINA, to the High Commissioner H.E. Manoah Esipisu. AKINA represents the pinnacle of Kenyan tea quality, being blended, branded, and packed in Mombasa.

UK Kenya high commissioner HE Manoah Esipisu supporting the Kenyan tea brands and Kenyan tea farmers.

We take immense pride in offering this high-quality Kenyan tea brand to the world. As we continue to expand our reach into Europe, the Middle East, West Africa, and Oceania, we eagerly anticipate having this exceptional blend available in major UK supermarkets soon.

Elevate Your Tea Blends with Kenyan Tea

If you’re looking to uplift your tea blends, Kenyan tea is an easy and reliable option. With a dash of Kenyan tea, you can achieve a signature blend that delights your customers.

Our 3-step process ensures we meet Kenyan tea requirements worldwide.

Schedule a consultation today to get your desired tea samples sent to you fast for approval, and be well on your way to meeting your business goals.

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