Monday, August 17, 2015

Afternoon Tea at Kiambethu Farm

Fiona shows one of the picking bags

Kenya teas are some of the finest tasting in the world, thanks to good growing conditions and the process they use.  With more than half a million registered small growers, I was anxious to see a farm up close and learn more about the way it grows.  There's a beautiful small plantation just about 40 minutes outside of Nairobi.  You travel through part of the rift valley to find it.  Kiambethu Farms is family owned and gives tours 6 days a week.  You can book directly with the farm, or find it on some of the Nairobi day tours.  It is MUCH cheaper if you have a driver and can book directly with the farm. It is child friendly and you pay half the adult price.
Tea plants for acres

We arrived at 11 AM and were greeted on the lawn by a couple of friendly dogs and Fiona, the lady owner who lives on the farm currently.  We could get some iced tea or cold drinks inside the house, and browse the beautiful gardens until the program began.  There were hundreds of birds in the flowers.  It was a real treat for anyone who loves botanical gardens.
Iced tea served by Fiona

Lovely gardens

A variety of flowers and birds

We were all gathered under an awning on folding chairs while Fiona told us all about the 30 acre farm and its history.  Her grandfather started it and it had successfully been growing teas since about 1910.  All the tea has to be hand plucked by workers skilled in finding the best tea leaves.  They are paid for the amount they pick, but the tea has to be a good quality or it is rejected by the cooperative that processes the tea for surrounding farms.  You could purchase tea directly from her which was processed locally.  I did and I'm enjoying it at home iced and hot.  I have to say the caffeine is quite high though.  Nearly every commercial tea company in the world buys Kenyan tea and puts their brand on it.

A Kenyan man took us on a walk past the rolling hills planted with tea plants, and through the forest nearby.  They often put food scraps out for the black and white monkeys that live there...in order to keep them in the woods and not in the garden...but we didn't see any.  He knew a great deal about the trees and plants and could tell us which ones were useful for medicine.  He said he had to walk with a machete and dogs to be sure thieves didn't come and cut away the useful plants.
Tea plants are hand plucked about every 7 days

He showed us a variety of plants in the forest

Vegetable gardens

Cows on the farm too

Afterwards we came back to the house and garden which had been set with tables of dishes.  We went inside the dining room to get our food.  There were salads, vegetables, soups, crackers, fruits, casseroles, cheese, cakes and home made ice cream.  Everything was delicious.  I told the chef he should print a cookbook of recipes and he said they couldn't because then there would be no reason for people to come eat there!  Of course there was plenty of tea if you wanted to drink it.  This turned out to be our last day in Kenya and was one of the best.
Outdoor seating

Cheese and bread

casseroles, rice, and lots of vegetable dishes


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