Improving Lives in Kenya through Fair Trade Tea
Guest blog post by Ronald Mutai, Founder of Majani Teas
This blog post comes to us from Ronald Mutai, Founder of Mujani Teas
I was born and raised on a tea farm in Meru, Kenya, a one-street town in Kenya’s ‘tea country.’ I originally came to the United Stated to attend graduate school at Columbia University, in New York City. After completing graduate school, I realized that without my friends and family back home I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I grew up surrounded by the aroma and beauty of tea and nature. My parents farmed teas like many of our neighbors. Growing up, we picked tea every day for delivery to KTDA – a Fair Trade certified farmers group that donates all of their earning back to the farmers. My father has cultivated teas since the late 1950s and over the years represented his fellow farmers on the organization’s board, being very active there before retiring this year. Since its inception, KTDA has grown considerably, becoming Kenya’s biggest exporter and foreign exchange earner. Kenya has also become one of the leading exporters of tea in the World.
Kenyan teas are considered to be some of the best in the world. The robustness and intensity of flavor, with low tannin content, make it smooth and non-bitter compared to other teas. Kenyan teas are famous for their brightness, attractive color, brisk flavor and textures of fragrant leaves. Traditionally used in blending due to their superior quality, Kenyan teas are now emerging amongst specialty markets.
Small scale producers in Kenya grow their teas in high altitudes of 2000-3000 meters above sea level. The farmers straddle the equator where temperatures remain constant throughout the year allowing for year round production and picking. This high altitude and favorable climatic conditions allows Kenyan tea growth completely pest free. Without the use of pesticides, fungicides, or any other harmful chemicals allows for completely natural organic tea production.
Most small scale produced teas are grown on the hill sides in deep, rich volcanic black well aerated loamy soils. The generous rainfall throughout the year is what calls for the cultivation of these robust teas native to Kenya. These teas are carefully handpicked to give you the best tasting and aromatic teas.
This is what motivated me to start Majani Teas; I wanted to give back to the community that raised me. I now promote and sell Kenyan teas in the US, as well as give back the earnings to help tea farming families with their education and healthcare needs. Out of the more than 500,000 small scale tea farmers who make a living directly from tea growing in Kenya, we select the most experienced of them to source our Fair Trade organic teas.