Thursday, September 09, 2010

Tea Around the World - Kenya

By Jess Hodges

Kenyan tea is familiar to any enthusiast but many would be surprised to learn just how much of it they drink without realizing. Tea has a long and productive history in Africa. In the misty mountains above Nairobi there are tea trees planted over 100 years ago by the British, the first seeds from India were put in the soil in 1903.

Kenya is the third biggest tea producer in the world and it's biggest exporter, accounting for 22% of global exports. Along side the huge commercial plantations there are also a vast number of family scale operations all working to produce over three hundred thousand tonnes of high quality black tea every year. The crop is of vital importance to the Kenyan economy, especially in times of drought.

The tea is picked on a short cycle and only the top tLinkwo leaves and the bud are taken. This laborious practice is what gives Kenyan tea it's outstanding quality. The cut, twist and curl (CTC) method of manufacture is used to give the tea it's exceptional strength.

The tea is sold at market in Mombasa where a tradition of polite formality has endured and good manners are paramount. The teas are known for their bright flavour and colour and are used in many blends to improve the appearance and strength of the tea.

The Kenyan Tea Board has recently launched a mark of origin in order to celebrate their unique tea and to try and promote it as a brew in it's own right and not just an ingredient. Certainly something to look out for for any tea lover.