Did you know that Malawi was the first African country to engage in tea production, with the first commercial plantations established in the 1880s?
The introduction of tea to Africa goes back to the end of the 19th century. It first originated in South Africa where the English started its cultivation to secure new sources of supply. Then, German settlers experimented with its cultivation on the slopes of Mount Cameroon and in Tanzania.
Throughout the 20th century numerous countries began to grow tea, and today, the African continent is an important player in the world tea market. Kenya is ranked third in the tea world production.
The teas are produced either by using traditional methods, giving either broken or whole leaf teas, or equally they are produced by CTC, "crushing, tearing, curling", a mechanical process that transforms the tea leaf into tiny pearls mainly for teabags. Today a dozen African countries produce black tea, of an uneven quality depending on its origin
Native to South Africa, the Aspalathus linearis, or Rooibos bush as it is commonly known, is a different plant from the tea plant, which gives a pleasant beverage with no caffeine and almost no tannin. Traditional rooibos is created by fermenting the leaves, which turns them a red-brown colour.
Rooibos tea is gaining popularity as a delicious and healthy beverage. It’s a flavourful, caffeine-free alternative to black and green tea.
What’s more, advocates praise rooibos for its potential health benefits, claiming that its antioxidants can protect against cancer, heart disease and stroke.
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Kenya is the fourth largest producer in the world today, contributing to 8% of the total production. Almost all the teas from the country are CTC teas with the exception of the Marynin garden which has kept its traditional processing methods.
Mauritius, which is close to Reunion, produces teas. The most famous of which is appreciated for its vanilla taste.