Tea from sub-Saharan Africa
Tea was introduced to the sub-Saharan Africa region in the early 1900s and 90% of tea plantations in sub-Saharan Africa are small farms of less than one acre, offering a truly unique opportunity for farmers to deliver innovation to their tea crops.
The continent of Africa is home to an amazing array of diverse cultures, but one thing they all have in common is an appreciation for tea. The type of tea and style of serving varies from region to region with endless variations to explore.
In West African countries such as Senegal, Mauritania and the Gambia, green teas flavoured with mint and sugar are the preferred brew. Meanwhile, in countries such as Mauritius and Kenya, black tea is served with milk and sugar, in a style reminiscent of former British colonists in the area.
There are regional specialties too; South Africa's rooibos tea, a herbal brew prized for its health-giving properties, Somalia's shaah, a blend of black tea and sugar flavoured with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom or Nigeria's Hibiscus herbal tea or Zobo cold drink blend which is rich in Vitamin C.
Tea production in Africa
Although tea is a relatively new crop in Africa, close to 150 years of existence in the continent, the continent has quickly gained prominence globally, becoming the fourth largest producer of tea in the world. Nearly every country in Africa now grows at least a small amount of tea, with the most common crop being CTC (cut-tear-curl) black tea for use in teabags.
Malawi was the first African country to engage in tea production, with the first commercial plantations established in the 1880s. Kenya soon followed in 1903, and is today Africa's largest producer of tea, with plantations covering over 4,000 square miles. Tanzania and South Africa are also known for producing colourful, zesty black teas, as is Zimbabwe, which grows teas on specially irrigated estates.