By Yvonne Blackwood~
King Tea reigns supreme!
We now know that tea is the most popular drink in the world (after water) and we know which countries are the two top tea producers (see part 1 of our previous blog). Let us now turn our attention to the numbers 3, 4, and 5 top tea producers.
Kenya, East Africa, is the third largest tea producer. Tea was first planted in Limuru near the capital, Nairobi, by G.W.L Caine in 1903. At the time the bush was planted for merely ornamental purposes. Commercial tea cultivation in Kenya began in the 1930’s. Today tea is one of Kenya’s most important cash crops, and the country is known as one of the world’s leading Black Tea producers. Kenya’s high quality tea is used for blending other teas that are sold on the world market.
The Tea Industry in Kenya has two components—corporate planters and small holders consisting of more than half million registered growers. The Tea growing areas in Kenya have the ideal climate for Tea—tropical, well-distributed rainfall, long sunny days, coupled with rich volcanic red soil. The best tea growing regions are located in both east and west of the Great Rift Valley within altitudes ranging from 1,500 meters to 2,700 meters. Kenya exports about 95 % of its total tea production.
Sri Lanka is the number four top producing tea country in the world. The question one asks is how did a small island off the coast of India become so highly ranked in tea production?
Tea was first cultivated commercially in Sri Lanka (Formerly Ceylon) in 1867 by the Scotsman James Taylor, who was a British planter. Almost 200 years after James Taylor’s death, tea production grew rapidly. Many plantations which once grew coffee were converted to tea, and former coffee stores became tea factories resulting in a dramatic increase in tea production.
Tea is serious business in Sri Lanka, and is produced according to strict traditional methods and standards. The Tea Board, set up in 1976, is the main regulatory and administrative body of the Sri Lankan tea industry. It incorporates representatives from both private bodies involved in the industry such as cultivators, manufacturers, traders, exporters, and government. Today tea export is one of the most important sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. The country has developed quality teas. When the “Pure Ceylon Tea” stamp with its Lion logo is placed on a sack of tea you know it symbolizes 100% pure Ceylon tea packed in Sri Lanka, and is world-renowned as one of the finest tea in the world.
Turkey is the number five top producing tea country. Tea production mainly started after 1923 when Turkey became a republic. Most of the tea plantations are centered around the Black Sea region and the town of Rize where the first tea factory was built. The tea produced is primarily black tea, known as Turkish tea, or Rize tea (named after the Rize area). A tea corporation was established in 1971, and in 2015 the country produced 175, 000 tonnes of tea. Turkish tea is very strong, therefore it is not served in large cups but in small tulip-shaped glasses. Turkey consumes most of its tea, exporting only a small amount.
Tell us about your special teas.