Kenya is an equatorial country famous for its coffee production. However, Kenya is also one of the world's leading tea producing countries.
In this article, I’m going to introduce the history of tea making in Kenya.
The history of tea in Kenya
Kenya, like India and Sri Lanka, was a former British colony.
The history of tea in Kenya is surprisingly short, and tea cultivation started in the early 1900s.
Let's take a look at the history of tea cultivation in Kenya.
Origins of tea cultivation in Kenya
Tea was first brought to Kenya from England in 1903, and the cultivated variety was Assam originally from India.
Kenya’s rich soil and favorable climate conditions for tea cultivation made it a promising tea growing area.
However, it was only after Kenya gained independence from Britain that commercial tea cultivation started in Kenya. This is because, during the colonial period, it was not allowed for individuals to grow tea freely in Kenya.
Within 50 years of its liberation from Britain, Kenya's tea industry had grown rapidly and became one of the world's leading tea producing regions, after India and Sri Lanka.
Tea making in Kenya today
Currently, Kenya has about 140,000 hectares of tea under cultivation, producing 320,000 tons of tea annually.
Also, when the production and distribution industries of tea are included, the number of people involved in tea production is about 4 million, which is 10% of the total population.
It’s easy to see why Kenya remains one of the world's leading tea producing countries today.
Expansion into East Africa
With the success of the tea industry in Kenya, tea production has spread to East African countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.
The largest exporting country of these countries is the United Kingdom.
For example, 90% of the tea produced in Malawi and 80% in Mozambique is exported to the UK.