Although Kambaa is quite a young factory when compared to heritage production facilities in China or India, Kambaa’s tea output ranks among the best in the world. Kambaa was commissioned in 1974 to serve as a manufacturing facility for thousands of small hold tea farmers in Kenya’s Kiambu District. All told there are more than 5400 tea farmers supplying Kambaa with fresh leaf. Initially, the factory was built to handle 10 Million Kgs (2.2 Million lbs) of plucked leaf per anum. Over time, this capacity has grown to 15 Million Kgs along with international demand for luxury Kenyan teas.
Tea was introduced to Kenya only after India gained independence in 1947. At that time, a number of tea planters emigrated to the country which was then still part of the British Empire. Despite a ban on the transfer of plants and husbandry information, these planters brought tea bushes with them to start new gardens. The Indian plants soon began to thrive in the Kenyan climate, particularly east of the Rift Valley. Today, thanks to the efforts of these early growers and manufacturers Kenya has grown to become the world’s largest exporter of tea.
Kenya’s tea industry also owes much of its success to the Kenya Tea Development Agency. The KTDA oversees the work of more than 150,000 small hold tea farmers and 39 factories, including Kambaa. Despite the diverse supply of green leaf to the factories the KTDA maintain rigid quality control standards. The results, as this fabulous BP1 can attest, are well worth every inch of the effort.