The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) is building a new factory to process specialty tea as it moves to diversify and cut reliance on black tea that is grappling with subdued demand amid economic crises facing major buyers of the Kenyan beverage.
The Sh130 million plant in Kiambu County will bring to 16 the number of specialty factories that the agency owns across the country.
KTDA chairman David Ichoho said the new factory will play a key role in complementing the agency’s income.
“This is part of our plans to diversify to other high-value tea amid the falling price of the black tea in the global market,” said Mr Ichoho.
Last year, KTDA requested a Sh800 million grant from the government to expand its production lines for high-value specialty tea following a surge in demand in the international market.
The agency said it had received six-month upfront orders from international buyers as the popularity of the specialty tea continues to grow globally.
KTDA says they want to put up specialty tea production lines in 10 more factories to cater for the expanded order book.
The agency has been producing about five million kilogrammes from the factories where the special processing lines for this tea have been installed.
Kenya is the only country in the world that produces purple tea, but the country is yet to tap its full potential even with a ready market.
The white and purple teas are high value products that fetch premium prices in the market.
They are expensive because of the limited volumes produced in the country against high demand globally. White tea is tea made from very fine two leaves and a bud or the bud from a specifically selected clone.
The tea is manufactured through natural sun drying. When brewed the liquors are light, refreshing and flavoury.
Purple tea is harvested from a specific purple tea plant.
When brewed this yields a light refreshing and flavoury purple liquor, according to KTDA.