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Venture into specialty tea, Kenyans asked

As a number of tea factories in the country embark in manufacturing various types of specialty tea, only a handful of Kenyans consume the new tea varieties.

A tea specialist, Ms. Elizabeth Njeri, has observed that only about one (1) per cent of Kenyans take specialty tea despite many benefits associated with the tea varieties.

Most of the specialty tea produced in the country, Njeri told KNA, is being exported to countries, especially those from the Far East.

She observed that some specialty tea varieties are associated with medicinal values thus the need for Kenyans to embrace taking of the new tea products.

Njeri who is the Operations Manager at Cottage Tea Factory, located in Gatura, Murang’a County, which majors in processing of specialty tea, observed that citizens of some countries such as China have fully embraced taking of specialty tea and Kenyans can as well borrow a leaf.

In Kenya, she added some factories have been processing varieties of specialty tea including purple, green and yellow tea, but unfortunately there is no domestic market for the products.

“Specialty tea has several benefits and it’s high time for Kenyans to embrace taking these tea varieties. We grew up drinking tea with milk but when tea is taken without milk it has more benefits,” added Njeri.

The Cottage Tea Factory, she noted, has been processing purple, green and yellow tea which is exported to foreign countries.

“Our factory mostly majors in producing specialty tea, especially purple tea. We have engaged a number of local farmers which grow and supply purple tea to our factory,” she said.

“When Covid-19 hit the country last year, our factory came to a halt as we were unable to export tea which negatively impacted on farmers who supply tea to us,” Njeri noted.

She argued that, if a big number of Kenyans consume specialty tea, the sector can offer employment to many people saying returns from specialty tea are quite more compared to black tea.

Specialty tea is taken without milk and sugar so as to enable consumers to get the medicinal values from the tea.

“Chinese usually drink green tea without milk and sugar. Green tea is associated with many health benefits and here in Kenya we can also embrace the habit of drinking green, purple and also yellow tea,” she further said.

The tea specialist argued that purple tea, which a section of farmers in some parts of the country have started to grow, has more benefits than green tea.

“Purple tea contains an anthocyanin chemical which has many medicinal properties and is particularly known to be beneficial against cardiovascular diseases.

“The anti-oxidants which are found in purple tea are known to provide anti-cancer benefits, improve vision and aid in cholesterol and blood sugar metabolism,” said Njeri.

She further noted that purple tea variety is a rare tea grown in the Mount Kenya region and is derived from the crossbreed variety of the common tea leaf.

“This new variety of the classic tea plant was only recently developed and is exclusive to Kenya,” she added.

Njeri observed that her factory with The Tea Board of Kenya have embarked to promote tea tourism where they educate Kenyans and foreigners about specialty tea.

She said they have been taking visitors to farmers growing purple tea and also educating them the benefits of specialty tea.

By Bernard Munyao

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