Kenya Tea : History, Benefits and More
Did you know that an estimated 50% of Britain’s Tea comes from Kenya (Kenya Tea)? This extraordinary country in East Africa has much to offer casual drinkers and connoisseurs alike, which is exactly what we’ll be exploring here.
Below, you will find out about the facts, figures, history and health benefits of Kenya Tea. And once you’ve soaked in this useful information, you can browse our vast selection!
The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company is proud to pack every Loose Tea, Tisane and Coffee fresh to order. This is our way of guaranteeing both quality and consistency with every cuppa brewed.
Our Kenya Teas are, of course, no exception. Please keep reading to discover more about this remarkable world and why, exactly, it remains so popular.
What is Kenya Tea?
Kenya is but one of many countries in Africa producing Tea. Others include Tanzania, South Africa (most famous for Rooibos rather than so-called ‘real’ Tea), Malawi and Zimbabwe (see Portsmouth Tea).
Nevertheless, Kenya Tea is, undoubtedly, the best known. The country is also Africa’s largest producer, ranking fourth in the world according to some statistics.
The local industry has two distinct divisions: the large-scale Tea plantation division and the small-scale Tea farms called smallholders. Overall, there are some 550,000 Tea farmers, many of whom harvest their crop in the highlands west of the Rift Valley.
The country’s equatorial positioning makes year-round production possible, all but guaranteeing a perpetually fresh product. The bushes flourish on the high-altitude estates, growing slowly, which makes for a better quality leaf.
There are also few bugs, so there is little need for pesticides. What remains a constant issue, however, is the lack of rainfall - often causing much anxiety for many farmers.
Following a successful season, harvesting takes place from January through March, and again in June and July. Most of this becomes Kenya Black Tea, although some Kenya White and Green Tea varieties also exist.
Picking itself is an art-form, it seems, with the majority done by hand. Still, when it arrives at the factory, approximately 90% undergoes CTC (cut, tear, curl) mechanised processing.
When brewed, Kenya Tea produces a bright coppery liquor and a distinctly brisk flavour. It boasts a liveliness like no other, with a balance of astringency and tannin that’s easily recognisable. Some even note a subtle resemblance to Indian Assam Tea. This is in part due to the history of Kenya Tea.
History of Kenya Tea
Scientists believe that humanity partly began in Kenya’s iconic Rift Valley millions of years ago. The Tea these humans would eventually go on to produce, however, is a far more recent occurrence.
Indeed, while China Green Tea dates back some 5,000 years, perhaps to 2737 BCE, Kenya Tea only began in the early 20th century - specifically 1903!
It was then that a Briton named G.W.L. Caine planted the first Tea in Kenya. This took place in Limuru in the Kiambu District, although it was only for ornamental purposes. It wasn’t until 1918, in fact, that a Scotsman, Arnold Butler, realised its true potential.
Years earlier, Butler had purchased a farm, Kiambethu, from the British government. Located 20 miles from Nairobi at an elevation of 7,200 ft, there were several challenges yet to come. Initially, Butler had intended to grow Coffee. However, his crop promptly failed - as did all other plants.
But, in time, Tea proved to be a tremendous success, with Arnold eventually cultivating 20 acres of Indian Camellia sinensis var assamica. To this day, Kiambethu Farm remains in the hands of the McDonnell family. Using Indian Tea plants, meanwhile, has spread throughout the country.
Much of the country’s industry has the support of the Kenyan Tea Development Authority (KTDA) - founded in 1965. The role of this institute, along with the Tea Board of Kenya, is to promote and support smallholder farmers. But what particular Kenya Tea types are on offer?
Tea Estates in Kenya
Kenya Tea grows in several regions and districts across the country. This includes Kericho, Bomet, Nandi, Kiambu, Thika, Maragua, Muranga, Sotik, Kisii, Nyamira, Nyambene, Meru, Nyeri, Kerinyaga, Embu, Kakamega, Nakuru and Trans-nzoia. Most of these locations enjoy 80% favourable weather patterns, making for excellent-tasting Kenya Tea.
Kericho, in particular, is, without doubt, the most famous region to produce Tea. Located at the edge of the Mau Forest, it boasts a warm and temperate climate, thus making it ideal for agriculture. Nandi, meanwhile, is a close second in terms of its near-perfect climatic conditions. As well as producing Kenya Tea, it grows outstanding Kenya Coffee.
When it comes to plantations and estates, Rukuriri in the Embu East district is one of the most renowned. Founded in 1984, it has long created many outstanding beverages.
This, of course, includes our very own Kenya Rukuriri Estate Broken Pekoe Tea. Then there is Emrok, which is in the Nandi hills near the Mogobich river. If this has piqued your interest, why not try Kenya Emrok FTGFOP1 Tea?
None are quite as famous, however, as Kenya Milima Loose Leaf Tea. This unique, indeed extraordinary, type of Orthodox Black Tea has much to offer. Its leaves grow at altitudes of 6,000 feet or above, the name “Milima” broadly meaning “high place” in Swahili.
Processing, meanwhile, takes place in Kericho. When brewed, it produces a rich, bright, malty flavour. Furthermore, it comes with Black Tea health benefits!
Kenya Tea Health Benefits
Kenya Loose Tea, like all types of ‘real’ Tea (those originating from the Camellia sinensis plant), can improve life in small yet significant ways. This is because they offer Black Tea Health Benefits.
From improved cardiovascular health to weight loss potential; immune system support to a reduced risk of diabetes, the possibilities are nearly endless. But what’s the primary reason behind this?
This remarkable infusion contains a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants capable of combating free radicals in the body. These free radicals are, in turn, the product of natural, though harmful, human oxidation.
When left unchecked, oxidation can cause untold damage to the body. Kenya Tea, however, can counter these effects, thus bolstering one’s health and wellbeing.
It’s also worth noting that Kenya Tea contains significant amounts of caffeine, which does more than get you out of bed in the morning. A study out of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, can support this incredible claim with evidence.
It concluded that a 200 mg caffeine pill is all it might take to help those living with dementia. Pretty neat for your new favourite brew, huh?
Buy Kenya Tea Online
No matter what you opt for, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company has something for everyone. Why not explore our range today?