Saturday, January 25, 2014

Frothy Tea Adds Festivities to Tea Dream's Anniversary

It’s been 12 months since we began sharing our dreams of tea.  To celebrate our one year anniversary, we returned to the site of our first blog posting, Le Pain Quotidien in Old Town, Virginia.  This bakery chain was founded in Brussels and sells organic breads, cakes, light food fare, and delicious teas.  

I ordered a chai tea.  To my surprise, the chai tea looked quite festive.  It was as if it were decorated just for our blog celebration.  The tea arrived in a handsome red cup, perfectly round with no handle.  The surface of the tea liquid was divided in three frothy sections with complimenting colors of sprinkled spices.

Even before I tasted the tea, I couldn’t help but smile.  I was tickled at the playful presentation.  Yes, I realize that I can become quite happy just at the sight of beautiful tea.  I’m not used to having froth at all in my tea.  Except for green tea lattes, teas where I’m from in the U.S. are generally not frothy. Froth is made from whipped or steamed milk.
For what I ordered, chai tea, milk is frequently added as it is prepared.  When I make chai at home with dairy milk, soy milk or even almond milk, there isn’t any froth. Now that I’ve seen how delightful it can be, I might have to add creating and styling froth to my tea repertoire. 

Having a pretty froth design in my chai tea was a nice way to herald the second year of our tea blog.  We have discussed all things tea, ranging from tea popsicles to tea terminology.  Some of my favorite postings have been about Japanese tea pottery, Chinese dynastic tea fashions, equestrian tea salons and Indian-style chai wallahs selling on U.S. streets.  This year, stay tuned for more on all things tea!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Kenya’s Golden Jubilee and Foray into Purple Tea

Photo by Quadell
December 12, 2013 marked the Golden Jubilee of the Republic of Kenya, one of the world’s top tea exporting countries.  The Golden Jubilee and its celebrations commemorate Kenya’s 50th anniversary of independence from British colonial rule.  Kenya has much to celebrate.  It is one of the more stable governments in Africa with not only a growing economy and solid credit rating [1], but with also a thriving tea industry.  According to a 2013 USDA Foreign Agriculture GAIN Report, Kenya is the world’s largest black tea exporter. [2]

Photo by Steve Connor
The tea plant Camellia Sinensis is not native to Kenya.  It was first introduced by the British when colonial settlers recognized the potential for tea farming in Kenya. Many regions there are perfect for growing tea due to high elevations, plenty of rainfall, good temperatures and great soil conditions.  In 1903, colonist C.W. Cain first planted tea in Kenya and commercial tea production began in the 1930’s.  Just 30 years later colonial rule ended, but tea farming remained and the Kenyans developed a successful tea industry from it.  Today, in black tea exportation, Kenya surpasses both China and India whose populations consume much of the tea they produce.  The Kenyan population doesn’t have a strong tea drinking culture and consequently about 95 percent of the tea produced in Kenya is exported. [3]

Photo by Ninara
Photo by Neil Palmer
Kenya continues to make strides in its tea industry.  Kenya has successfully developed resilient, high yield varietals of Camellia Sinensis.  Recently the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya released a purple tea variety, TRFK 306/1.  This purple tea is considered extra rich in flavonoids and anti-oxidants.[4]  The leaves of this variety actually look purple as they grow.  This tea, grown on Mt. Kenya, is prized and still quite rare.  It took Kenya 25 years to develop it and it is expected to earn farmers 3 to 4 times more than green tea plants.[5]

Kenya and its tea have come a long way in the last 50 years.  It will be exciting to see what new developments come from Kenya in the next 50.

Photo by Ceci
[1] Business Daily, March 12, 2013, Nation MediaGroup of Nairobi, “Agency retains Kenya on stable outlook rating after poll”
[2] USDA Foreign Agriculture GAIN Report,10/31/2013
[3] Monitoring African Food and AgriculturalProject (MAFAP) Policy Brief #5, June 2013, by the Food and ArgricultureOrganization of the United Nations
[4] Tea Research Foundation of Kenya, Purple Tea
[5] New Agriculturalist

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