When people think of tea, the first countries that come to mind are usually China and India, which makes sense as these are the world’s biggest two tea producers, followed by Sri Lanka (near India). Kenya, by comparison, is slightly less well-known, even though it is currently the world’s fourth largest tea-producing country, and has been for some time.
For a long time, Kenyan teas were used primarily in blends, which partially explains the lack of familiarity with Kenyan teas among most people. However, in recent years, the specialty tea industry in Kenya has blossomed. This article highlights some of the interesting features of tea production in Kenya, and points you in the direction of buying high-quality artisan teas originating in Kenya.
What makes tea production in Kenya special?
The producers in Kenya face strong competition on the international market; these factors have strained many producers. In many regions of the world, conditions similar to these led farmer’s to consolidate into large-scale factory farms, in an attempt to farm more efficiently. Kenya chose a different route, one that is likely to prove more sustainable in the long-run: diversifying.
Rather than consolidating into large-scale operations, tea producers in Kenya have remained small, and instead focused their efforts on the development of new and innovative varieties. An overwhelming majority of tea produced in Kenya is grown on very small farms, less than one acre. These are then combined in factories which are still small. Although there is some large-scale cultivation of mass-produced bulk tea used in blends in Kenya, the majority of operations are still very small.
Novel varieties of Kenyan tea:
Kenya has produced innovative styles and varieties such as purple tea, a variety high in anthocyanins, the same purple pigments familiar from raspberries, blueberries, or blood oranges, and white matcha, a powdered tea similar in some respects to Japanese matcha, but distinct, and white in…