Africa is a relative newcomer to growing tea, but it’s already the fourth-largest
tea producer after China, Sri Lanka, and India. Here are 10 African tea companies notable for sustainable practices, fair trade, social consciousness or environmental friendliness.
Sources: bosicetea.com, unilever.co.za, sokodirectory.com, kungaloosh.com, tanganda.co.zw, rooibusltd.co.za, kakuzi.co.ke, ratetea.com, thebubbleteacompany.co.za, utzcertified.org, fairtradeafrica.net, theteadetective.com.
Tea-leaf agriculture is a rather new thing for Tanzania. The Luponde Estate’s factory plantation in the Livingstonia Mountains of the Njombe region produces luxury teas, providing one of the only sources of consistent income for the community. All its teas –black, green, white, and peppermint — are produced using fair trade practices, which means workers should be guaranteed a fair wage. Fair trade aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. It advocates paying higher prices to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards.
South African rooibos iced tea served in a can? Sounds delightful! Bos mixes the uber-healthy classic rooibos red tea with fruity twists. Bos Plus satiates the health nut by providing tea infused with gingko biloba or ginseng. Privately owned with headquarters in Cape Town, Bos sells tea in thousands of outlets across South Africa.
Beads of tapioca floating around in fruity or non-dairy “milkshake” iced teas first became popular in Taiwan, then spread all around the world. This South African tearoom has harnessed the craze. Since its first tearoom opened on Cape Town’s V&A Market on the Wharf, many little shops in the country have surfaced. Its bubble teas are served as frappes or shaken, and even incorporate rooibos into the multiple flavor choices.
Being the first Kenyan tea to be picked and packaged right at the source, Iriaini Tea Company is making history. This smallholder tea factory is located in the Nyeri North District of Mount Kenya. It’s a fair trade co-operative run by more than 6,000 local farmers. While still maturing in product output and marketing, it impressed U.K. partners and the tea been sold in some supermarkets in Britain. The company is working towards a presence in Kenyan stores.
This company claims to be Kenya’s top packager and distributor of flavored and herb teas. Based out of Nairobi, the Melvin in question is a Kenyan woman who has been obsessed with blending herbs and leaves since childhood. Flavors come in chamomile, marsala, cinnamon, and tangawizi (ginger beer), to name a few.
Rooibos is arguably the most popular and wholesome leaf coming from Africa. The South African red tea plant was once available only in the Cederberg Mountains north of Cape Town. In the early 1900s, the rooibos industry took off when doctors, scientists, and botanists realized the medicinally marketable value of the plant. Rooibos Ltd. claims it is committed to boosting the South African economy via a global market of teas and a green footprint on the planet.
Run by generations of the Scottish Cathcart Kay family, the Satemwa Tea company has helped promote reforestation in Malwai by donating eucalyptus seeds. It also runs a free-under-5 medical clinic for children. The tea estate in Thyolo produces green, white and black tea and practices fair trade.
Another Kenya-based company that made it in the global market, Kakuzi is listed on the Nairobi and London stock exchanges. Its lone estate, Kaboswa, is situated directly on the equator in the Nandi hills west of Nairobi. Priding itself on ethical business practices and workplace environments, as well as eco-friendly sustainable practices, Kakuzi is also a major grower and distributor of avocados, pineapple, and macadamia nuts.
“Ajiri” means “employment” in Swahili, and that’s exactly what this tea company provides. Its leaves are pouched and packaged at the Nyansiongo Tea Factory in the Kisii District. Not only does the company provide jobs — it funds orphan education. The company commissions women of Kisii to make twine, labels, and beads for its tea boxes to be shipped out.
A branch of the mammoth South African-Zimbabwean Meikles Group, Tanganda Tea produces the largest volume of tea and coffee in Zimbabwe. Based in the Eastern Highlands in the city of Mutare, its success story dates back to smuggled-in seeds from India in 1924 that produced the first bushels. It now claim to have tea leaves in six out of every 10 cups of tea in Britain.