TEA Is obtained by plucking, drying and curing the young leaves of the shrub tree.
In Kenya, it’s grown around Kericho and Limuru.
In Tanzania, it’s grown around Iringa and Mbeya, Southern highlands and on slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
In Uganda, it Is grown around Lake Victoria regions in Lugazi at Kasaku Tea estates, Mityana, Bushenyi, Fort Portal and Kigezi.
Harvesting takes about 3-4years after planting.
Conditions for tea growth
- Warm but not exceedingly hot climate for proper maturity of the crop.
- Fairly heavy rainfall of about 1500 mm which is well distributed over the growing period.
- Deep, acidic and well drained fertile alluvial Soil for the growing of the crop.
- Protection from strong winds by practicing agroforestry.
- Alternate spraying to control pests and diseases e.g. leaf rust.
- Cheap and abundant labour needed especially during the harvesting season.
- Adequate capital needed for buying fertilizers, pesticides and farm implements.
- Careful pruning and regular hoeing to kill weeds.
- Availability of ready market both local and international to buy the crop.
- Tea cuttings are raised in a nursery for 6-10 months.
- Holes are dug at intervals of 0.7-0.9 m with rows being 1.5 m apart.
- Transplanting is done at the beginning of the rainy season.
- Young tea plants are intercropped with other crops to prevent soil erosion and to act as mulch.
- Pegging lateral branches to force them to grow horizontally to aid frame development.
- Tips of shoots are periodically plucked to encourage growth of more shoots.
- Tea is ready for harvesting when it attains 4 years.
- The bushes are pruned to a new level after every 3 years to increase production through new vegetative growth.
- Tipping or cutting shoots back to required height.
Harvesting Of Tea
- Picked after 5-7 day during rainy season and 10-14 days during dry season.
- 2 leaves and a bud are picked and thrown in a basket strapped on the back.
- A straight stick is used to determine the height.
- It should not be pressed to prevent premature fermentation.
Processing Of Tea
- At the factory the leaves are withered by blowing hot and cool air alternately.
- Passed through a machine which crushes them into small pieces.
- Crushed leaves are fermented for a few hours.
- Fermented leaves are dried by blowing with a machine called drier.
- The cooled tea is graded by passing through a strainer which sieves it.
- The various tea grades are winnowed by blowing out unwanted fibres.
- Tea is then packed in chests or bags to await sale or exportation.