Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) sold specialty teas worth Sh800 million in the financial year ended June.
The earnings were realised from the sale of two million kilogrammes of orthodox tea with production having increased from 1.6 million kilos in the previous year.
Orthodox tea, which comprises green, purple and black teas are premium varieties that fetch more money when compared with the traditional black CTC type.
A kilogramme of orthodox tea on average during the review period was Sh399 against Sh238 for the black tea.
“We have seen significant growth in the production of orthodox tea and prices for the orthodox have always been good when compared with the black CTC,” said John Bett, general manager marketing at KTDA.
Orthodox teas are mainly sold to overseas markets, but are also gaining popularity with Kenyans because of health benefits - being rich in antioxidants.
KTDA has installed orthodox processing lines in 10 factories with nine of them currently processing these types of tea.
One more factory is being commissioned and will commence processing of orthodox tea this quarter Another factory is under construction in Nyamira County, while one in Kangaita nearing completion is expected to process Japanese-style green tea.
“The roll out is continuing and more factories will be investing in more orthodox processing lines,” said KTDA.
The agency is diversifying to other types of teas as it seeks to cut over-reliance on the black CTC that has over the years been its main source of income.
“The growth in capacity by these expanded and new facilities will further accelerate a diversification programme by the agency aimed at opening new markets and diversifying earnings from the current black CTC tea whose prices have taken a dip at the Mombasa Tea Auction,” KTDA added.
Orthodox teas are whole leaf teas processed using a delicate method of gradually rolling green leaf into sizes of different twists and styles. This is unlike black CTC tea where the leaf is cut into fine granules by a set of rollers.
Other speciality teas on focus include green, purple and white teas. Kenyan-made orthodox teas are mainly sold in Germany, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.