China Orders 5 Million Kilos of Kenyan Black Tea

China has developed a thirst for black and purple tea grown in Kenya. (Photo Credir: Adobe Stock)

China’s growingthirst for black and purple tea from Kenya led to a sizeable 5 million kilogramsper year agreement this month.

Xinhua News Service reports the sale is valued at $67million (KSH7 billion) annually.

KenyanCabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said the three-year deal “is expected toincrease to more than 30 million kilograms annually valued at an estimated $385million (KSH40 billion) shillings in the next 10 years.”

Globally blacktea consumption is on the rise, but so is production. The black tea harvestthrough June is up 2%, depressing prices at export.  In Kenya black tea output declined 8.4% duringthe first six months of the year to 244 million kilos.


Black tea, calledhongcha, originated in Wuyi in Fujian Province. It is relatively new to Chinawhich began manufacturing it only 200 years ago. In recent years tea drinkersthere, especially the young, switch from green to oxidized teas during the falland winter months.

“Ashigh-quality black teas from the Wuyi Mountains have risen to fame, Chinesepeople have also re-embraced drinking black tea on its own, with boilingwater,” writes Huang Wei, author of the Sixth Tone blog.

Wei notes “a diverse rangeof black teas from overseas have taken the mainland Chinese market by storm,including British-style honey and lemon tea, American iced tea, Hong Kong-style“silk stocking” and “yuenyeung” teas, and Taiwanese bubble tea.”

Theseven-member delegation from China, toured Kenya in late August and September, visitingseveral specialty tea processing factories before signing a memorandum ofunderstanding, according to Xinhua.

A field of purple tea in Kenya. (Photo by Tocklai Tea Research Institute)

Kiunjuri,who heads Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, said Kenyais intent on forging a close bilateral trade relationship with China for wholeleaf and premium cut, tea, curl (CTC) teas, including purple tea.

Toassist Kenya, Fuzhou Benny Tea Industry Company Ltd., will provide newmachinery to the processing factories along with tea-making expertise to craftteas suited to China’s market. The company will also provide warehousing andmarketing support in China.

Thewarehouse will serve any Kenyan factory seeking to export its tea to China,said Zhang Chaobin, chairman of Fuzhou Ltd. The tea will be listed for auctionat wholesale prices on China’s digital platforms.

Zhangsaid a vibrant Sino-Kenya trade in specialty tea will help fulfill keyobjectives of The Belt and Road Initiative.

"Ourtrade with Kenya in the specialty tea sector is complimentary. It will alsoboost friendship," said Zhang.

Thedelegation of officials of the China National Forest Industry FederationEcological Tea and Coffee Branch are intent on developing strategies aimed atdeepening trade in specialty tea, writes Xinhua.

Kiunjuriwas especially keen on tapping the specialty market in China.

"Webelieve a partnership with Chinese companies will lead to growth of the purpletea market segment. It is our desire to pursue enhanced access to Chinesemarket for tea products," said Kiunjuri.

ZhuZhonghai, secretary general of China National Forestry Industry FederationEcological Tea and Coffee Branch said high quality specialty tea from Kenyawill resonate with Chinese consumers, according to The Nation.

Sources:Xinhua Net, The Nation. The Sixth Tone