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With almost four hundred thousand acres under cultivation, East Africa produces quantities of black tea, chiefly for British tea bags and other anonymous uses, though much is consumed domestically also. The crop has been grown since 1900 or so in Kenya and Malawi, the continent’s leading tea countries. Kenya’s auctions in Mombasa now sell over two hundred thousand tons yearly for export, ranking the country with the world’s top suppliers. Malawi’s auction center is Blantyre; her total production averages perhaps one-fifth of Kenya’s. Located in between these countries is Tanzania, Africa’s only other tea producer of much significance in international commerce. With a few exceptions like South Africa’s Zulu tea or Ragati and Marinyn estates in the Kenya Highlands region, which have produced self-drinking Orthodox teas notable for heartiness, Africa’s teas are all manufactured into CTC leaf and dust, mere commodities intended at best to serve as filler in some foreign blend. Political and meteorological traumas afflicting these tea districts with regrettable regularity make even this humble ambition elusive.
Some 225,000 acres of tea are grown in Kenya, while 150,000 more are parcelled out among eleven other East African countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Rwanda tea was highly regarded in Britain in previous times. Cameroon is the only tea-producing country located in West Africa. May the Tea Gods bless these beginnings.