A Tea Should Taste Of The Place Where It Is Made
3 October 2014
When you stand beside the factory at Tinderet and look out over the slopes of tea and indigenous forest you cannot be struck by how beautiful Kenya is. The rich dark greens of the forest contrast with the lighter leaves of the Ejulu tea bushes and dark volcanic red of the soil. As soon as you walk into the factory the smell of fresh tea hits you and that distinctive deep earthy smell of a natural product. On Tinderet fresh green leaf is made into the black tea in little under 24 hours, fresh is an understatement and the farm’s award winning teas are recognisable for their brisk liquors and bright colours.
As the season’s move from dry to wet each year so the characteristics of the tea change. Tea is not a piece of plastic produced identically every day of the week, it is a living product effected by the climate and conditions it is grown in. But in the dog eat dog world of the supermarkets and their never ending price wars agricultural intensification and numerical imperialisation of natural products is demanded on an ever increasing scale. No one seems to calculate the quality that is sacrificed when agriculture is industrialised. Instead of celebrating the characteristics and seasonal changes of teas from individual farms, supermarkets demand standardised products all year round, rejecting anything that is not deemed correct in their spreadsheet dominated systems.
But tea should taste of where it is made and when it is blended with teas from all around the world then it loses its identity and becomes merely a man-made product manipulated by mechanical techniques instead of naturally tasting of the place where it is grown. Teas straight from the farmers should be celebrated and the unique flavours, liquors appreciated as they change throughout the year signalling the movement of the seasons, rather than being boring and generic!