– Kenya Album 5 –

Tea

Intermittent shots from research into Kenya’s tea industry, from the western highlands to Mount Kenya.

Tea is grown on roughly 233,000 hectares in Kenya and is the largest export commodity in the country. It was first introduced to Kenya in 1903 from the Assam region of north east India by the British tea planter GWL Caine, whose seeds originated from wild tea bushes discovered in Assam in the 19th century.

Clones from these Indian bushes have since been developed in research institutions in both India and Kenya and today the majority of tea grown in Kenya belongs to this type of Assamica tea (C. Sinensis var. assamica) and its hybrids. In 2017, over 397,000 tonnes of tea passed through the tea auction in Mombasa to proliferate through markets across the world from Karachi to London.

Following many decades of transformation, development and innovation within the practices, infrastructures, social-material networks and business models that comprise the world of tea, Kenya has come to be responsible for 13% of global tea production which, during an era when tea is consumed in one form or another by roughly 70% of the world’s population, is an extraordinary feat.