KENYA – The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA)-managed factories are venturing into the production of high value orthodox tea in a strategic move to enhance the earnings of tea farmers.
Orthodox tea, known for its whole-leaf and intricate processing techniques, stands in stark contrast to the black Cut, Tear, and Curl (CTC) tea, widely consumed locally.
Ms. Agnes Munene, a senior KTDA officer, elucidated that orthodox tea is meticulously crafted through gradual rolling and drying methods, resulting in a diverse range of twists and styles.
She noted that there was a growing demand for orthodox tea internationally, creating new opportunities for factories to reap substantial profits from its sale.
“Factories are getting billions of shillings out of the sale of orthodox; in fact, trade in orthodox should be encouraged,” Ms. Munene said.
Orthodox tea’s ascent in the global market has piqued the interest of factories, which are increasingly capitalizing on its potential for revenue generation.
Thumaita Tea Factory in Kirinyaga County is among the factory under KTDA management that have recently embraced the production of orthodox tea.
The factory entered into orthodox tea production last year, processing five million kilograms of orthodox tea out of the 22 million kilograms of tea leaves it produced.
Mr. Isaack Kariuki, the vice chairman of Thumaita Tea Factory, revealed that one kilogram of orthodox tea fetched an impressive price of KSh675 (US$4.65), whereas an equivalent quantity of CTC tea was sold for KSh420 (US$2.89).
Higher returns from orthodox tea have incentivized the factory to further expand its orthodox tea production with Mr. Kariuki expressing optimism about the future prospects of this venture given the substantial returns it offers to tea farmers.
Acknowledging the burgeoning demand for orthodox tea, KTDA’s tea specialist manager, Mr. Festus Kaburi, affirmed that factories are now intensifying their focus on this high-value product.
As the global appetite for orthodox tea continues to grow, KTDA-managed factories are poised to benefit from this diversification strategy, ensuring that Kenyan tea farmers secure higher incomes and the nation strengthens its position in the international tea market.