Tuesday 3 April 2012

Kenya Tea - Make your own blends


Marks & Spencer is making it easy to get into the spirit of Fairtrade Fornight with conscious - free cuppa - the first Kenyan tea to be grown and packed at source. Marks & Spencers tea experts have spent the last two years working with their Faretrade Kenyan tea supplier Iri-iani, to help train the farmers with the skills they need to understand how to pack tea so they can supply it direct to both international retailers and their home market in Kenya.

Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, “This is a truly innovative project. The partnership between Marks & Spencer and Iri-iani, with funding from the Department for International Development, shows that with the right support, producers can be involved in not just growing the tea but also in packing the product. This means they have a greater share of the value and a bigger involvement in the supply chain which only seems fair. It’s a great step forward of which the smallholders are rightly proud and excited!”

Support from M&S included:

  •      Educating the farmers in understanding ‘value added’ and how to supply a UK supermarket
  •      Setting up visits to other M&S suppliers to understand how they operate
  •       Building a tea packing operation that met the M&S standards of production and installing it in the Iri-iani tea plantation
  •      Selecting the best tea to suit M&S consumers tastes – M&S sent their tea expert to educate the farmers on the factors that affect the tea quality and taste 

M&S was the first retailer to convert all its tea and coffee to Fairtrade back in 2006, and has since been working with the Fairtrade Foundation to develop strong relationships and development projects with its tea and coffee suppliers around the world

The tea is grown in the Mathira division of Nyeri North District, which is surrounded by the scenic highlands west of Mount Kenya. It will go on sale at M&S from mid February – in time for Fairtrade Fortnight, priced at £1.79 ( 50 Teabags)

I was sent a lovely selection of Kenyan Tea to try, they were 

  • Kenya Estate Millima Leaf Tea - This very rare, large loose leaf tea is a traditional orthadox tea with a bright liquor and a full, slightly malty flavour. I t is aromatic, fruity    and spicy with some sweet floral notes.
  • Kaamba Loose Leaf Tea - This luxury black tea has a very malty flavour with light hints of currant and is a bright golden colour when served with milk. It also has high levels of antioxidants.
  • Kenya Marinyn  G.F.B.O.P - Marinyn is grown in the highlands at an altitude of up to 9000ft, resulting in this strong, brightly flavoured tea with a sweet quality and fresh, crisp aroma. The tea has a coppery colour, and is brisk and lively cup with a refreshing bite.

I was sent a great kit with three different flavours, a tea strainer, cup and saucer and a list of different tea blending tips and suggestions to create my very own blend perfect cup of tea, I have never made my own tea before so this was the perfect challenge for me.  My favourite was the Kaamba Loose Leaf Tea which had just the right balance of flavour for me, I like my tea strong with a little drop of milk.

First i added 1tsp of Kaamba loose tea leaves into the tea strainer 

I then left it for about 4 minutes as i like my tea strong

I then added a little milk & sugar  making my perfect cuppa

Tea blending 

  • Work on the quantities of 1tsp of loose tea for a single cup, plus one for the pot. Steeping times will vary according to taste so try a little after two minutes or up to four for a stronger taste.
  • Tea blending is a personal process, so try the teas separately in small amounts before blending to determine which taste you prefer.

About Kenyan Tea: 

  • Tea has grown in Kenya since 1903 and quickly thrived thanks to growing conditions, climates and altitude. Tea is grown in both large plantations and smallholdings across 180,000 hectares with production reaching up to 390 million kilos per year. Today Kenya is the largest producers of tea in Africa and one of the world's largest black tea producers.
  • Kenyan Tea has been been proven to have higher levels of antioxidants compared to teas produced in other parts of the world.

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