Saturday, August 05, 2006

Kenya ramps up instant-tea production

In June, newspapers in Kenya—the world's second-largest exporter of black tea—reported that tea plantation workers were pressuring the Kenyan government to stop foreign-owned tea plantations from introducing automatic tea-picking machines.

Well, the tea companies in question must have, ahem, smoothed things over with the government, because Kenya's leading tea grower and processor, James Finlay Company, recently announced its about to unveil Africa's "most modern integrated tea-processing complex"—which includes the tea-picking machines—in the Kericho region, which is the heart of Kenya's tea industry.

James Finlay says it is introducing the machines to keep up with growing demand for instant green tea in the U.S. and other countries.

The next time I drink a cup of authentic Japanese loose-leaf green tea, grown in the rich soil of the foothills of Mt. Aso by an honest-to-goodness farm family, I will reflect on how fortunate I am not to have to resort to instant green tea.

—Mellow Monk

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