A new Dawn in Kenya-Tea Diversification

Did you know that Kenya is the world leading exporter of tea? Did you also know that Kenya hosts the second largest tea auction in the World? Mombasa tea auction is an impressive organized auction that brings together eleven African countries that produce tea. Kenya’s tea is the heritage of our produce and a lasting story of success. Kenya’s tea is produced all year round, thanks to the pleasant natural weather ideal for growing tea. Her produce is also 100% pesticide free and farmers practice good agricultural practices at the farm level. Most Kenyan Factories and cottages are certified by global certification bodies like Rain forest Alliance and Fair Trade.

Apparently, very few Kenyans know much about our premium teas. We produce some of the best teas that every tea drinker would love to taste. Kenya is known predominantly for Black CTC tea whose processing methodology involves key stages. They include withering, maceration, CTC (Cut Tear Curl), Fermentation/oxidation, drying, sorting and packing.

Recent developments in the tea industry however, has seen the Regulator AFA- Tea Directorate step forth to deliberately encourage diversification into new types of tea. Licensing for tea cottages is on-going and is a great stride towards diversification reality for major ideas that have for long been in archives and written recommendations.

New diversified teas are produced in tea cottage setting and all fall under Specialty tea categories which include purple tea, green tea, white tea, organic teas and Oolong teas. Tea diversification was done to encourage green leaf optimization and to reduce green leaf wastage and over production of Black CTC teas which are annually carried forward to the following year. Diversification was also inspired by the need to satisfy tastes and preferences of other global consumers and to meet demand for these products in the niche and high end markets. A significant point to note is that these specialty teas retail at higher prices than Black CTCs  though the  market size and segment is small. Specialty teas fetch an average of 10 Us Dollars per Kg compared to Black CTC whose average is between 2.80 to 3.20 US Dollars per Kg.It is also important to note that selection of specific specialty teas to produce is informed by specific market requirements. Marketing of these teas begin with market research and matching market needs first as opposed to Mombasa auction where teas are sold in bulk and shipped for value addition elsewhere. If well nurtured and managed, Specialty tea segment will boost the earnings of farmers and compliment the prices realized at Mombasa Auction.