Kenya Food and Beverage
“In Africa, the largest producer and exporter of tea is Kenya. As a former British colony, Kenya received tea culture from the British, who planted the first plantation of the Assam tea plant in Limur in 1903. Then, through the efforts of local tribes, plantations arose in the mountainous regions of Kericho and Nandi.
After the Second World War, the British began to expand tea production here, but there was a struggle for the country’s independence, which ended with the proclamation of Kenya in 1964 as a republic. In the same year, the Kenya Tea Development Authority was established, and over the years, tea production, along with coffee production, has been developed into a leading agricultural and export industry. It relied mainly on small private property in the circle of local tribes and grew at a rapid pace.
According to Themotorcyclers.com, in 1964, about 20 thousand small farms were employed in the tea business with a total plantation area of 11 thousand acres (4.4 thousand ha), and by the end of the 90s. there are already about 270 thousand farms on plantations in 222.4 thousand acres (88.9 thousand hectares). If in the 60s. only one tea factory worked, then in the 90s. there were 44 of them, and they processed the products of 13 main tea regions of the country.
With an arid climate in the country, the main region of tea plantations is the Kenyan highlands, located at a level of 1600-3000 m above sea level. The abundance of rains that constantly form over the nearby Lake Victoria makes it possible to obtain high-quality leaf there. Bushes vegetate all year round, but the best collections are considered in January – early February and July. In general, the products are consistently high in quality, which allowed Kenyan tea to take a leading position in the world market.
Kenyan black tea orthodox and CTC with a lot of unblown tips, giving a rich rich infusion, is in great demand in the world market. The “orthodox” tea called “Marinin” stands out, which is close in appearance to Assam loose teas. Kenyan tea is traditionally sold through the Mombasa and London tea auctions, as well as under direct contracts, and goes most of all to England, Ireland, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Japan, and Sudan. It is widely used as a raw material for blending with Ceylon and other teas. (V. M. Semenov. “Invitation to tea”)
“The history of Kenyan tea growing dates back to 1903, when the first tea plantation was founded by the British colonizers. But only in 1925 the country was able to put tea production on an industrial basis. In this, she was helped by the English companies Brook Bond and James Finley, who began to invest capital from India in local tea growing.
Today, the Tea Council of Kenya directs the activities of nearly 270,000 smallholders who grow tea on over 110,000 hectares of tea plantations. In total, about 2 million people are directly or indirectly employed in the tea industry. The volume of tea produced annually reaches 240 thousand tons.
The main tea plantations are located on the plateaus on both sides of the Great Rift Valley. Here, in the south-west of the country, on the plantations around the tea capital of Kenya, the city of Kericho, at an altitude of 1500-2800 meters above sea level, nature has created excellent conditions for vegetation. Warm rains and increased air humidity caused by the nearby Lake Victoria contribute to the year-round growth of tea bushes. Tea is harvested regularly throughout the year, every 17 days.
The high consistent quality of Kenyan tea is one of the main reasons for its steady growth in popularity. In 1996, Kenya took away the laurels of the world’s largest exporter from Sri Lanka. It produced 257.4 million kilograms of tea, offering 244.5 million kilograms for export, one million more than second place Sri Lanka.
Basically, Kenyan tea is produced using CTC technology, and only a small number of teas are produced using traditional technology. Today, Kenya holds the third place in the world in terms of the volume of black tea produced, behind only India and Sri Lanka.
Tea (along with coffee) is the main export commodity. It provides about 28% of all export earnings of the country. Kenya’s main customers are the UK, Egypt and Pakistan. Canada, Germany, Holland, Sudan also buy Kenyan tea.
In general, Kenyan tea resembles Assam tea. It gives a red-golden infusion with a full, rich and harmonious taste. It is ideal as an invigorating morning drink. Best taken with milk. (Yu. G. Ivanov. “Encyclopedia of tea”)
Winemaking in equatorial countries is complicated by their climatic features. It is not surprising that in Kenya, for example, European vines began to be cultivated only in the 80s of the XX century.
Harvested once every 8 months, or three in two years. Nevertheless, there are people who are ready to produce high-quality table wines even in these conditions.
In the vicinity of Lake Naivasha, on volcanic soil, the vineyard of the married couple D’Olier (D’Olier), the pioneers of Kenyan winemaking, grows.
John D’Olier – head of the Kenyan Huguenots. His father arrived in East Africa during the First World War. Ellie D’Olier came to Kenya from California.
In 1985, the family presented a traditional Kenyan drink – papaya wine – at the Lisbon exhibition and received a silver medal.
In 1986, these enthusiasts produced the first grape wine.
The quality of food in Kenya is excellent. Fruits and vegetables have significant differences in taste from vegetables and fruits sold in Europe. This is especially true for avocados, mangoes, pineapples and coconuts. You can taste Kenyan meat in small restaurants outside the cities, where it is cooked simply inimitable. Sometimes Kenyan cuisine includes such unusual foods as the meat of zebra, crocodile, ostrich, warthog, giraffe and some other wild animals. In particular, in the Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi, African bushmeat is offered. Prices in restaurants are not high. Dinner will cost you from $2 in an ordinary restaurant or bar to $20-25 in an expensive one. The main products are rice, potatoes, maize (corn), chicken, beef or goat meat. Some restaurants will serve you spinach and sukumaviki (a green vegetable that looks a bit like cabbage). A cheap restaurant differs from an expensive one not in the quality of food, but in variety. The menu of an inexpensive restaurant has a limited selection of dishes and no vegetables and salads.
In addition to national dishes in Kenya, there are also dishes characteristic of a region or tribe. The most interesting from a gastronomic point of view is Swahili cuisine, which is based on coconuts and tamarinds. In the Kikuyu tribe, Irio is very popular – a mixture of potatoes, peas and corn. At Luo you can try fried tilapia (fish) with spicy tomato sauce and quench corn porridge.
Soft drinks and freshly squeezed fruit juices are quite cheap and are sold literally everywhere. Bottled water is sold everywhere except in small villages and costs about $1 for a 1.5 liter bottle. In Kenya, local beers Tusker, White Car and Pilsener are very common, which have an exquisite taste. A large number of wine varieties are produced, most of which are sweet and fruity. Papaya wine stands out in particular. The best of the grape wines is Naivasha (white and red).