Since the 1950s, Rwanda has been producing some of the world’s best teas. Tea has become Rwanda’s second largest foreign exchange earner after coffee and a source of income for thousands of farmers. Rwanda’s high altitude of 1,600-2,500 metres makes it ideal for tea cultivation. This elevation helps to moderate the climate in this equatorial region and the mountains help capture much-needed rainfall. Rwanda’s rich volcanic soil help produce teas with a distinctive flavour. Rwanda’s spectacular rolling hills have earned it the sobriquet ‘a land of a thousand hills’.
In the late 90s the government embarked on a privatisation programme of its core industries, namely tea and coffee.
The main goal of this was to reduce the country’s dependence on subsistence farming. Rwandan owned companies purchased some of the best tea estates and have invested in upgrading them. A few years ago Mcleod Russel, a major Indian producer of Assam Tea, purchased two of Rwanda’s best tea estates.
Just like in other tea producing countries in Africa, tea in Rwanda is grown on large plantations and by smallholder tea farmers. Tea can be found on hillsides as well as in well-drained peaty marshland. Although the CTC method of production (tea designed for teabags) dominates production, in recent times Rwanda has experimented with producing black teas using the orthodox method. One tea estate located north of Kigali, the capital, produces some of the best orthodox teas in Africa with a flavour similar to medium grown Ceylon Teas.
At Ahmad Tea we use Rwandan CTC teas in our blends due to their fresh flavour and briskness.
Also, Rwandan CTC teas are perhaps the brightest teas produced in the world.
They produce a bright, rich golden colour liquor when made with milk. Due to their excellent quality, Rwandan teas fetch the highest prices in the weekly auction in Mombasa.