Kenya is the largest tea producer in Africa and the third largest producer in the world and is also the largest exporter of tea to the United Kingdom; almost all tea bags from major brands in the United Kingdom are blended with Kenyan tea leaves.
Tea was first introduced in Kenya in 1903 by GWL Caine and commercialised by Arnold Butler McDonell who purchased 350 acres from the British government in 1904, moving to Kenya to establish his own farm. He planted 20 acres in 1918 and to his delight the bushes thrived. In 1926 he became the first commercial tea producer in the history of Africa, establishing an industry that today is worth more than $1 billion. Since then the nation has become a major producer of black tea and the global leader in developing new varieties of single origin, artisanal teas such as Purple Leaf Tea which you can buy now from our shop.
Tea production in Kenya is dominated by smallholder farmers who produce approximately 60% of Kenya’s tea. These smallholders run their own tea gardens and sell their teas to cooperatives.
Mombasa in Kenya is home to the largest tea auction in Africa and the second largest black tea auction centre in the world after Colombo in Sri Lanka. Unlike India and Sri Lanka where tea is seasonal, production in Kenya is all year round. Mombasa has gained a reputation as a centre for some of the best CTC top grade tea in the world and for an international blending floor with teas coming from within and outside Africa for blending. Every major tea producing and consuming country focuses on the weekly activities in this Mombasa to gage the market trends and create benchmarks for their international prices of tea.