KTDA factories diversify to orthodox tea to grow cash


A factory worker keeps an eye as freshly rolled tea leaves are delivered for fermentation at the orthodox tea processing plant. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya Tea Development Agency-managed factories have embarked on processing orthodox tea to diversify products so as to ensure farmers earn more money.

Thumaita in Kirinyaga County is one of the latest tea factories to join in this venture, which is widely backed by farmers and directors.

Orthodox tea is in high demand in the global market compared to the black Cut Tear and Curl ( CTC) which is commonly consumed locally.

Orthodox teas are whole-leaf teas processed with special machines using a delicate method of gradual rolling and drying of the leaf into smaller sizes of different twists and styles, according to a senior KTDA officer, Ms Agnes Munene.

She said orthodox was doing well in the international market. "Factories are getting billions of shillings out of the sale of orthodox, in fact, trade in orthodox should be encouraged," she added.

Ms Munene who is a production manager at Gitugi Tea Factory said orthodox tea from Kenya is of high quality and asked citizens to start consuming it for better health.

This is unlike CTC tea where the leaf is cut into granules by a set of rollers. Orthodox tea is gaining popularity in the international market and factories are gradually capitalising on it to make more money.

Last year, Thumaita produced 22 million kilogrammes of tea leaves out of which five million kilogrammes were processed as orthodox tea.

"One kilogramme of orthodox tea was sold at Sh675 while the same quantity of the CTC tea was sold at Sh420. Orthodox tea which was sold in small quantity gave us a lot of money and we are planning to increase the volume," Thumaita Tea Factory vice chairman, Mr Isaack Kariuki said.

A KTDA tea specialist manager Mr Festus Kaburi admits that orthodox tea is in high demand and the factories are now focussing on this new product.

He said KTDA was doing capacity building of its factory managers to help in the processing of orthodox tea.

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