Kenya: the expansion of the purple tea market


purple tea

Known for its high quality, Kenyan tea is highly demanded on the international market, hence Kenya became the largest exporter of premium tea worldwide. With more than 400,000 tons of tea exported each year, Kenya is leading the list of top-producers like India and China. The domestic market is still immature, considering the local tea consumption of premium tea. However, a number of Kenyan firms started developing their offers to market high quality tea in Kenya like purple tea.

Production of purple tea in Kenya

Tea is a major cash crop in Kenya, as it is considered the world third-largest producer. Most of the produce, is destined to the international market. In fact, only 5% percent of tea production stays in Kenya.

As Kenya is well-known for its high-quality black tea, local farmers seem more seduced by the purple tea. This interest in growing black tea, started back in 2008, near Mount Kenya -the highest mountain in the country. Grown uniquely in Kenya, purple tea is believed to enclose much health-boosting benefits than other teas. Purple tea is distinguished by its flavour, taste and reddish leaves. It also contains, a high level of anthocyanins, a mighty antioxidant that reduces cells inflammation. Recent studies even proved the capacity of this antioxidant to prevent cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

“We have researched a lot on the health benefits from cancerous models to models that have undergone extreme oxidative stress, and we have seen that purple tea actually alleviates the stress in these cells and we have used that to educate our people that purple tea is actually good for your health,” said Lilian Kerio from Kenya Tea Research Institute.

Therefore, the global market started to warm up to this particular product, as demands are raising from across the world. Still, director of the Kenya Tea Development Authority Lerionka Tiampati believes that purple tea is an “upmarket product” that will not replace “orthodox teas”.

This new varietal, is quite intriguing for small-scale farmers, in Kenya. And so, many started the plantation of purple tea, also known as TRFK 306. This varietal needs a distinctive method of processing, that only the KTDA’s factories seems to offer for the moment being. And so, the processing of the TRFK 306, is quite a challenge for small farmers.

Kenyan developing a taste for premium tea

Major players have put so much weight on the premium tea exportation that they snubbed the domestic market. A reality, that is starting to change, as Kenyans are more and more tempted by the high-quality tea. According to euromonitor, sales on the local market, for all tea ranges raised by 40% from 2010 to 2015, as the sales of premium tea have doubled.

And so, local firms and the KTDA are working to develop a more attractive product range produced locally. Gold crown is a family-held business in Kenya that sought the development of the domestic tea upmarket in the country. Gold crown opted to enhance the final product without relying on the processing done overseas.

“While we have brilliant tea here, what you found on the shelves was terribly packaged and we thought, well, we’re here so why not do something about it?” said founder and managing director Fahim Ahmed.

Although the firm is knowing a rapid growth of their sales in Kenya, 80% of their revenue come from exportation of unprocessed tea.  Other local companies have emerged lately to follow Gold Crown’s lead.

“There exists an enormous blue-sky opportunity to roll out higher-quality tea like purple tea too,” declared Aly-Khan Satchu, a Kenyan investor.

Purple tea and premium tea are broadening investments possibilities for small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs.


Kenyan Purple Tea Set to Official Launch at ExpoWest This Week


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