Tea: From Fields to Our Tables

Tea has been a popular drink throughout most of history, starting in China many centuries ago, and diffusing throughout the world as time has gone by. Lately, it has become standard for me to start my day with a cup of Twining’s Breakfast Tea, so I decided to look further into the journey it takes to get to my kitchen table.

Tea has been around so long that nobody is quite sure of it;s exact date of origin, although, legend has it that the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung brewed thefirst pot of tea as far back as 2737 B.C. All tea comes from the same plant, the Camellia Sinensis, which wasfirst cultivated for tea usage in China. Nowadays, China is the top producer of tea, but many other countries, like India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Japan, and Argentina, rank close to china in terms of production.
Kenya, which will be the country of focus, is most known for their excellent black tea. Kenya offers a very ideal climate for growing the Camellia Sinensis plant: tropical weather, almost no seasonal change, rich volcanic soil, well distributed rainfall, and plenty of highlands (high altitude is said to create the best tea leaf). Most of Kenya;s tea farms are east of the Great Rift Valley, in the Mount Kenya Region. The fields are placed adjacent to forests, for the moisture.
Tea leafs are cultivated on local plantations, most which are ran by Finlays, a Scottish company that owns the majority of tea estates and tea manufacturing plants in Kenya and Sri Lanka. Other smaller scale commercial farms are operated by the KTDA (Kenyan Tea Development Agency).No chemicals are used in the tea fields, but common fertilizers, such as ammonium sulphate and single super phosphate, are both regularly used to help replenish the soil.

When the Europeans discovered tea in the 16th century, they were crazy about it, so they started growing it in the areas they colonized, hence why India and South American nations now produce large amounts of tea. I…

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