Some of the largest tea fields in the world- stunning scenery and lots to learn about the world's favourite drink.
Most people associate tea with India and China. And while lots of tea is produced in those countries, chances are that most of the leaves of your cuppa this morning were grown in Kenya.
Kenya is world's largest exporter of tea but most tourists wouldn't know about it- they focus on safaris or sun 'n sand.
So come here to see a different side of Kenya- and experience the world's best climate.
Just outside Kericho, west of the Rift Valley. Map.
TEA IS THE most popular drink in the world, after water. And it comes from India, right? Or perhaps Sri Lanka, or China? Well, India and China certainly grow a lot of tea, but they drink so much of it locally, there's not a lot left to export. So most tea found in black tea bags around the world (think Lipton, Tetley's, Twinings) actually comes from East Africa, where the climate is ideally suited to grow this magical leaf.
Kenya is the world's largest exporter of tea and much of it is produced in the highlands around Kericho.
With an altitude of around 2000m, and almost smack on the equator, Kericho is blessed with what is arguably the world's best climate. Days are pleasantly warm, around 28C, nights are cool, down to 15C, and it's usually sunny except for a brief spell of rain in the afternoon which keeps everything lush and green. Sounds just right to me. Also sounds just right to the tea bushes, who thrive in this climate, and whose output is much higher than in more famous tea-growing areas like Darjeeling.
You'll see massive green fields, some of which are owned by large corporations, like the Lipton Tea Gardens (owned by Unilever, the world's largest tea company), which stretch for almost 70 km. These large estates are like self-contained communities: the Lipton Tea Gardens house more than 50.000 people, workers as well as their families, in numerous small villages.
|A workers' village in a sea of green.|
|Your cup of Lipton, fresh from the field.|
|How much did I pluck today? (It matters because my pay depends on it!)|
|Raise your hand if you want a job with free housing and healthcare!|
|Tall eucalyptus trees (but please don't expect any koalas in Kenya.)|
|Turning green leaves into black tea.|
|A smallholder surveys his land.|
|This family financed their home by growing your bag of Lipton. So keep drinking.|
|Freshly cut green leaf- ready to be dried in the gigantic oven.|
Kericho is about 6 hours by road from Nairobi. You'll pass straight through the Rift Valley and some stunning scenery.
Once in Kericho, consider staying at the Tea Hotel (originally built by the Brooke Bond tea company) which stands on the edge of town in the middle of the tea fields. You can walk directly into the fields from here- or give the friendly folks at Unilever Tea Kenya a call who have been known to host visitors when asked nicely. Tell them we sent you.
The Rainforest Alliance and Tea