KENYA – The Tea Directorate of the Agriculture and Food Authority has licensed Horera Forest Edge Tea Company to manufacture, pack and export purple tea products.

Horera Forest Edge Tea Company, founded by Robert Murimi, joins the list of privately owned companies which are currently engaging in export of the lucrative commodity.

According to a report by The Standard, the company will be processing one million kilograms of tea and has already contracted farmers in Central Kenya to supply the commodity.

Developed by the Tea Research Foundation of Kenyan (TRFK) as a speciality tea, Purple tea seeks to add more variety to tea consumers in US$10 billion global market where black tea ranks as the most popular tea consumed.

Touted to have more healthy benefits than black tea, farmers of purple tea were also poised to fetch premium prices than black tea at high as US$20 per kilogram compared to an average US$0.52 that a kilogram of green leaf fetched last year.

“There is enough market for purple and special tea products. We are not well established locally for the new variety products but the international market is available,” says Robert.

However, lack of exposure for the benefits of purple tea and inability to secure and access local and international markets for purple tea products are among the reasons why farmers have shunned to diversify and venture into new varieties.

According to the Purple and Specialty Tea Association of Kenya, increasing the number of manufacturers of speciality tea in the country will motivate more farmers to venture into the variety which fetches better prices.

The association’s executive secretary Mercylynate Rotich said 20 members across the country had been registered, among them being small-scale producers, processors, packers and manufacturers.

Despite being the leading tea exporting, Kenyan tea has been struggling at the Mombasa Tea Auction in the recent months.

Rwanda’s tea is selling at premium rates at the auction, overshadowing price offers on Kenyan produce as international buyers focus on quality.

While prices have generally remained low at the auction in the recent months on the back of high volumes, Kenya’s tea is apparently shedding its attractiveness even as factories in Rwanda work to improve the quality for export market.