Tea was introduced to Kenya in 1903 by G.W.L. Canine and in the 1930’s commercial planting began. Although planting was cut back in 1933 because of a depressed market, tea is today one of Kenya’s most important cash crops.
The first Tea bushes have grown into large trees, forming an historical feature on what is now Unilever’s Mabroukie Tea Estate.
In Kenya there are both large plantations and what are called smallholdings. Kenya is the largest producer of tea in Africa, and it has quadrupled its exports over the last decade. Tea is also one of the most important drinks in the country itself.
AFA Tea Directorate and the Tea Research Institute work constantly to help the industry, and the returns from the industry, help the country.
Currently, Kenya prides itself as one of the world’s leading black Tea producers.
Kenya Tea – Quality Advantage
Kenya tea has certain advantages which cannot be replicated elsewhere:
- Kenya tea is FREE of pests and/or diseases. This means that Kenya tea is produced without use of any AGROCHEMICALS. The only item used in growing is the fertilizer which is used to replenish the soils. There is no doubt that such pure and healthy tea will be relished by the increasingly health conscious world population.
- Kenya tea is grown along the equator. This means that the tea receives 12 hours of sunlight throughout the year. Kenya Tea is grown in areas of altitude between 1500-2700 metres above sea level, receiving 1200-1400mm of rainfall annually- which is spread throughout the year. This makes the supply of Kenya tea consistent throughout the year both in quantity and quality.
- Kenya has about 50 varieties of tea, which are developed to suit the seven tea growing regions. Research continues to be undertaken in this area. With each new variety developed, chemical properties of the produce is enhanced. This implies that the health attributes that tea is associated with can be found in abundance in tea from Kenya.
Over 90% of tea from Kenya is hand-picked. Only the finest top two leaves and the bud are used for tea production. This explains the excellent cuppage and aroma. Over and above this, Kenya has over the years developed skills in tea production which can be attested to by the quality of the tea. Kenya tea factories/producing facilities are certified with the internationally acclaimed standards (ISO 22000; HACCP; Rain forest alliance, fair trade GMP)
Windows for Sales/Exports
Kenya tea can be purchased by international importers in two main ways:
- Auction sales- An importer can purchase tea through the Mombasa Tea Auction or directly or through an agent. This option avails a wide range of teas from the different origins in Kenya. Infrastructure for making special blends is available.
- Direct /contract sales- this option allows for teas straight-line/ unblended teas straight from the factory.
Requirements for Use of Mark of Origin
- The use of the mark of origin shall be granted solely by TBK upon satisfying the requirements as per the management system of certification (SOP to be developed).
- The consumer tea packets and containers bearing the mark must contain 100% tea produced in Kenya.
- The Kenya tea branded with the mark of origin must be manufactured according to the Tea Industry Code of Practice (KS 2128). Exceptions may be made for tea grades necessary for production of tea bags or meeting specific market demand. However in all cases, item 2.2 MUST apply.
- The Tea Packets and Containers using this mark shall be of the quantity specified in the Tea Regulations 2008 of the Tea Act.
- The tea packets and containers bearing the mark must conform to the standards for packets and containers for respective markets and where the standard is not specified, Kenya standard for tea packets and containers (KS 1927:2005) shall apply.
- The packets and containers bearing the mark of origin must be packed in premises registered by the Tea Board of Kenya.