Since Kenya is a major tea producer, we thought it would be a good idea to learn a little about the industry while we were there. Our introduction to all things about growing tea happened at Kiambethu Tea Farm in Limuru.
It was just a forty minute drive from the heart of Nairobi and located at an altitude of 7000 feet above sea level. The countryside was amazing...lush and green. Tea needs plenty of water...and it seems there is no shortage of rain up in these hills.
The estate was built by the Mitchell family in the early 1900's. Our tour guide was Fiona Mitchell, a granddaughter of the original owners...a very knowledgable one at that. Her family was one of the first to venture into the tea business in Kenya...and she is now lives in the home her grandfather built.
We arrived at the estate to see monkeys scooting across the roof...and one that settled in above the porch to have a morning snack.
The lesson about tea production would have to wait...
...while we had a Colobus monkey entertaining us.
Eventually we moved along...and took a tour of the tea fields. We learned that the tea is harvested year round...always just removing the top few leaves. The tea is picked early in the day...and taken to market immediately. It will be sold at the tea auction in Mombasa...the largest in the world.
Though the fields are a solid sea of green...workers somehow make their way between the bushes to harvest the tea. And tourists manage to squeeze their way in for a photo op.
Here I found plants that looked like those in gardens back home...hydrangea and fuchsia. We watched the birds flitting about and in the distance the tea fields gave way to the peaks of the Ngong Hills...the ridge along the Great Rift Valley.
Oh...and we enjoyed the tea! I brought home my own supply of Kiambethu Farm tea...and one of these days you can join me for tea time.