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Kenyan Tea: Discovering the New Horizon

July 29, 2021

Kenyan tea is a type of black tea that is specifically grown in Kenya. It varies in taste as well as healthy components.

I have to admit that I only drank Kenyan tea much later in life. However, the unique flavors of the brew led me to learn more about this bold tea from Africa. And, now you can find out all about it too!

What is Kenyan Tea?

What a lot of people aren't aware of is that Kenya is the third world's largest exporter of tea! Tea production is only surpassed by China and Sri Lanka.

Kenya tea can sound rather exotic, but it comes from the same tea plant that is grown in other countries such as China and India. This tea, too, belongs to camellia sinensis. The three main species that grow in Kenya are camellia sinensis var. sinensis, camellia sinensis var. assamica, and camellia sinensis var. cambodiensis.

The most commonly grown tea in the region is black tea. However, as there is an increase in other kinds of true teas, yields of these Kenyan teas have also increased.

White cup and saucer filled with tea

The History of Kenyan Tea

Compared to other countries, the tea industry in Kenya is actually rather new. Tea was first introduced to Kenya in 1903 by G.W. Caine, a colonial settler. The crop readily took to the region due to the favorable climate and soil conditions in certain areas.

Tea in Kenya is grown in the following districts, to name a few:

  • Kericho
  • Bomet
  • Nandi
  • Kiambu
  • Thika
  • Maragua
  • Muranga
  • Sotik
  • Kisii

The Unique Characteristics of Kenyan Tea

There are two main factors that make the tea produced in this area so unique and unlike other teas. The first is the soil - in Kenya, you can find red volcanic soil that is incredibly nutrient rich. This is what helps the plants to grow quite so well and to add that interesting taste and flavor.

The next thing that sets the tea apart is elevation. Many Kenyan teas are planted at high altitude. Not only does this greatly improve the taste of the tea, but it also ensures that the resulting brew has higher levels of antioxidants as well.

baked bread along with black tea

Kenyan Black Teas and Quality

Now, tea growing and processing has been evolving in Kenya for quite a while. In particular, the manner in which farmers organized themselves was what changed the most. In the beginning, it was mostly scattered groups of small-time farmers growing Kenyan teas.

As the industry grew and progressed, however, many of these farmers were encouraged to consolidate under larger organizations. This helped to increased the yield of tea produced. However, you will still find several dedicated small farms and estates.

In many ways, the tea from these small farmers may actually be of higher quality. These farmers grow the tea plants with a great more care. The leaves are also plucked, dried, and processed in a more drawn out manner as well.

Does Kenya Have the Best Black Tea?

There is no denying that the teas sourced from Kenya have continuously been praised and awarded. When grown and processed properly, the country does produce some of the finest teas around. Nevertheless, the quality can vary from one estate to another and from one brand to another.

Due to this, you can't automatically guarantee the quality of any Kenyan teas. Instead, it is important to invest in well-known brand with high quality products. Or, take a closer look at how the tea is produced.

What Does Kenyan Black Tea Taste Like?

The flavor or taste of tea is referred to as liquor. The liquor of Kenyan tea is often referred to as robust, rich, and with a full body. While it can be described as smooth and brisk, there are also some teas with a naturally sweet flavor.

More often than not, Kenyan tea is quite strong. As a result, it will be added to blends and products that produce more concentrated blends. It isn't unusual for these drinks to be diluted by various ingredients.

Morning snack and tea

Choosing Kenya Tea

There is limited information on Kenyan tea, which can make it tricky to choose a tea from this country. Thus, use the following factors as a guide to selecting the best product for you:

Farmers

In many instances, choosing farmers will smaller setups may be a good idea. To begin with, these individuals preserve proper practices. Not to mention, as there is less machinery involved in the process, the taste and flavor of the tea are maintained. It is also possible that fewer chemicals are used as well.

Whole Leaf Tea

Yes, loose leaf tea is almost always the better choice. It offers up a better taste. This is because the leaves can unfurl and release a more complex flavor.

Fair and Sustainable Practices

It is a good idea to look for brands that only source tea from estates and companies that practice fair and sustainable processes. While this may not result in a better brew for you, you will have peace of mind knowing that you are making the right decision.

How to Brew and Drink Kenyan Tea

Kenya tea can be brewed in the same ways as any other black tea. You can use whole leaf tea leaves or tea bags for this. Keep in mind that the tea from tea bags may result in a slightly more bitter brew.

Use 8 ounces of water per person. Heat the water until it comes to a boil and then remove it from the stove.

Add one teaspoon of whole leaf tea leaves or one teabag to the cup. If you would like a stronger taste and aroma, then increase the quantity of tea leaves or add two tea bags.

Let the tea steep for 3 to 5 minutes. After 3 minutes, make sure to taste the flavor at intervals. This will let you know when the tea is at your preferred strength and how long to steep it for in the future.

If you are drinking a higher quality tea, then you may not want to add anything to your cup. In case you want a stronger drink or are making tea with tea bags, then you may need to offset the bitter flavor.

In this case, milk and sugar are the best options for you. Be careful when adding the milk, however. The last thing that you need is for the taste of milk to overpower the natural flavors and aroma of the tea.

This is what you need to know and understand about Kenyan tea. As you can see, it is a rather fascinating story - one that should be shared among more people.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to check out our Pinterest page. We have lots of information on various other teas for you.

About the Author
Dr. Dheena Sadik
Dr. Dheena Sadik is a consultant Nutritionist and Dietician. She has over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry.
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