Ask any Kenyan schoolchild what they know about the town of Kericho and they will tell you a lot. They’re tell you about the mountains that loom above the town, sharp points of lightening that strike the ground with such force up in the hills, a perennial drizzling of rainfall and the tea, the vast canopy of green that stretches out to the horizon, the monotony of which is only broken by the brightly colored clothing of pluckers working their way through the fields. Kericho lies at the very heart of the Kenyan tea industry, east of the Rift Valley, and has developed quite a reputation for itself throughout the country.
Over the last century or so, since the Kenyan industry’s early beginnings, tea has taken root in the region more than simply commercially. In town, the beverage has become a way of life. A visit to anyone’s home will always be accompanied by an offer of tea, the refusal of which is considered quite gauche. At the centre of the town is the main square, aptly named “Chai Square” and on the square can be found the Tea Hotel, built during the 1950s by a British tea company. Kericho is literally steeped in tea.
One of the finest tea estates in the vicinity of the town is Tinderet, of which Lelsa is a sub-district, situated just off the equator with 707 hectares under tea. The estate is a relative newcomer to the Kenyan tea scene and was planted in only 1956. Interestingly, the lands used for the gardens once grew eucalyptus, the faint hints of which are said to color the profile of the tea like a botanical fingerprint. Of all Tinderet’s sub-districts, Lelsa is considered something of a jewel in the crown. Its rows are well situated in the garden and receive near perfect amounts of sunlight, rainfall and drainage. Lelsa’s teas are consistently prized for their purity of flavor, round robust character and malty Kenyan edge that takes milk exceptionally well. This FBOP is no exception. Exceedingly flavory with floral notes and assertive astringency, this truly stands up as one of Africa’s greatest teas.