Kenyan Tea, the Amazing Journey...
Updated: Mar 5, 2021
What is Kenyan Tea?
"Tea is tea, right?"
Yet another tea-related question posed to me by a friend lately. YES, I said enthusiastically - Tea is an amazing infusion made with tender leaves of a single plant species named, Camellia sinensis.
I continued...The top two leaves and unopened bud from the springs of each tea bush create the magic when these are hand-picked and processed in different ways to produce 4 main tea varieties;
As it goes, the human attention span is at its lowest ever now (thanks to technology) and so with no major interest in tea, I'd lost her attention at this point.
Yet, as we know, there's a lot more to this question.
The journey of a tea flush doesn't end upon transformation to any of the above categories. There are hundreds of different subcategories and varieties of these all over the world, each of them distinctive.
And as you rightly guessed, when hoping to delight your customers, and grow your business, there are many factors to consider when buying tea from a specific region.
Some of these may be:
·Your general market preference
· Niche opportunities
· Prices offered
· Market attractiveness
· Product range expansion and many more...
So bearing these in mind, what makes Kenyan tea fit for purpose?
The general agreement is that in a blend, Kenyan tea makes a richer tea infusion with good quality and brightness, thanks to the climate and soil conditions in the tea growing regions. For your tea consumer, this results in a satisfying, coloury, strong cup of tea with a full-bodied character. For you, an excellent solution for a good quality tea base, to maximize your profits.
Let's take a look at some of the other curious questions we've come across.
Tea Varieties in Kenya
Although tea-growing countries can produce any varieties, each country has a long-established culture of its own. In Kenya, CTC tea production is the art and style used for tea processing, Black tea being the most common variety.
Interestingly, the country exports nearly 90% of its total Black tea production, exact figure? Just shy of 500 million kgs in the year 2019.
Who introduced Tea in Kenya?
Travelling back in time to the colonial era, (a period we'd like to put behind us), Kenyan tea like other producing countries was heavily influenced by the British.
In 1903, a settler, Caine experimented by planting the first few tea bushes brought from India on a small two-acre parcel of land. This attempt flourished into a charming, picturesque region of tea, called Limuru, the starting point of the country’s largest export industry.
The Tea growing regions in Kenya
Today, tea farms are situated in and around the highland areas on both East and West of the Great Rift Valley. The unique geography of the country (equator passing through Kenya) allows tea bushes to flourish under favourable weather patterns of rainfall and adequate sunlight spread throughout the year.
East of the Rift Valley is home to more than 500,000 small-scale tea farms, who managed by KTDA (Kenya Tea Development Agency), maintain sustainable practices to protect natural resources.
To the West, large (mainly) British multinational companies are responsible for almost 80% of all the tea grown and exported from Kenya for tea-bag blending. Additionally, these corporations have bargaining agreements with workers and are rainforest alliance certified to create a sustainable tea industry for workers, farmers, and the environment with montane forests surrounding many plantations.
How Much Tea Does Kenya Produce?
In 2019, Kenya held the title of the largest black tea exporter in the world by volume.
An all-year-round production cycle recorded 458.85million kgs of tea produced, 6% lower than 2018's figure of 492.99, owing to reduced rainfall.
With minimal seasonal variations in quality. Kenyan tea liquors range between good, medium to very fine qualities a consistency that makes Kenyan tea dependable for tea packers worldwide.
Kenyan Tea Taste Profile
Tea is among the most demanded drinks in the world with different brands offering blends that stir up a multitude of benefits for consumers.
For experienced tea masters, you likely have a personal interpretation of the overall taste profile of Kenyan tea. To use industry vocabulary, some of the words you'll often hear in connection include "distinct taste", "full-bodied", "similar to Assam", "brisk flavor", "aromatic" - typical of young fleshy healthy leaves full of juices and extra flavonoids.
The liquor's color may range from delicate amber to a more bright coppery hue, to reveal the region, harvest conditions, tea’s variety, etc
These specific characteristics provide an ideal blending opportunity to complement your end goal.
Mother Nature meets science
The art of processing tea is much like that of a winery, the altitude of the tea garden, and overall topography can influence the final product. A combination of:
· An ideal all year tropical climate,
· Deep volcanic reddish soil rich in mineral content
· Fertile high altitude terrain
All make for perfect tea bushes and results in high scientifically proven antioxidants activity, uniquely Kenyan.
As a bonus, farmers use fertilizers to replenish the soil - the only addition to increasing productivity. No agrochemicals are sprayed on the tea leaves making Kenyan tea a clean choice for health and environmentally-conscious tea drinkers all over the world.
Is green Tea found in Kenya?
Yes, just like white tea, these are strictly seasonal to achieve the best quality and produced in small quantities for specialized markets.
What is Purple Tea?
Kenyan tea has gained an advantage in a competitive global tea market with a special type of tea found mostly in the colder Mount Kenya and Nandi Hills regions.
Unlike other types of tea, the leaves of this new varietal are purple and scientifically referred to as Cultivar TRFK/306/1. When brewed, the liquor has a light purple to greyish hue.
First discovered growing wild in Assam, India, it was then developed by the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya (TRFK) for 25 years and is now grown commercially to meet worldwide demand.
With high levels of anthocyanins, the same antioxidants that give color to foods like berries, grapes, and aubergine, Kenyan purple tea has a unique type of micronutrients, leading to numerous health benefits including generally desired healthy weight loss and weight management.
What are the benefits of Kenyan Tea?
A growing number of tea varieties from virgin tea bushes
Distinct taste and quality
Unique nutritional value
Free of Pest and diseases
Opportunities for value addition
So no, Tea isn't JUST tea.
For most, it's an emotional connection to suit every moment to cherish, whether that's solitude, a conversation with a dear friend, or as part of a healthy lifestyle to counter health challenges.
To achieve brand loyalty, your buying decisions rely on what your customers are looking for as well as new and unique opportunities to get customers hooked to your range of products.
Whatever your motivation is for being here, we're glad to assist in your business requirements for Kenyan tea to create that perfect tea moment.