Harriet James @PeopleDailyKe
Visiting tea plantations and factories is one of the fun things to enjoy while in Kericho. So during my recent visit to this green town, the Tea Hotel had organised a trip to one of the tea factories that turned out to be one of my best travel experiences ever.
My tour guides, Winrose Chepkirui, Kagwiria Kaibung’a and David Kiprono arrived at the hotel, all dressed up warmly and excited to assist me learn more about Kericho tea.
We had to get there before 12 pm or else we would have found the workers gone for their weekend off. Prior to the visit, I was advised to wear mud-friendly shoes, a jacket and an umbrella for the unpredictable weather.
We drove smoothly, with no jam along well- tarmacked roads. We arrived at the Mau Tea Factory, eager to learn about this age-old industry. Factory supervisors were happy to see a fellow Kenyan interested in tea processing; apparently most of their guests are white people.
First, we wore hairnets for hygiene and we dipped our feet in antiseptic before entering the factory. Factory supervisor David Rotich took us round the factory, showing us the various process of producing tea.
These included sorting and weighing, cutting, tearing and crushing, the fermentation area, quality control area and finally the packing zone. I won’t tell you everything I was taught in here, as I want you to explore this place and re-learn it for yourself!
Later, we visited tea fields where I saw the breathtaking views of tea plantations stretching in green waves forever. The vast, well-tended and lush green tea farms were only interrupted by indigenous and eucalyptus forests as well as paved footpaths. I asked the supervisor why eucalyptus was planted in the tea farms.
“The eucalyptus trees feed into our forestry business that meets the local community’s wood and timber needs, with a portion of it being used in the factory for processing tea,” he said.
The sight of the tea pickers, in their colourful clothing and baskets, plucking the tea with shears was awesome. And so was my day out in the tea fields of Kericho county.