Hmm oh, sweet chai o’ mine.
Limuru is a breath of fresh air! Tucked away in the lush plains of Limuru is Kiambethu Tea Farm. Once you pass Banana Hill, you drive through a winding road cutting through rolling hills of beautiful tea farms.
Isn’t Limuru stunning?
Kiambethu was bought and farmed by AB McDonell in 1910. The farm was originally a huge 60 acres but now is only 2 acres. Over the years, there have been five generations who have lived on and cared for the farm. Currently, the farm is run by McDonnel’s granddaughter, Fiona Vernon.
FACT: Having a background in timber, McDonnel is the main man behind the construction of Limuru Girls School. Which at the time, only consisted of 12 students (Fiona being one of them).
On arrival, we were welcomed by an incredibly friendly Fiona. She invited us to have a walk around her stunning garden whilst we waited for the other 20 guests to arrive.
Fiona began her tour with an introduction on tea before she led us to the bottom of her garden to the tea plantation.
She then talked us through the history of Kiambethu, more information about tea itself and the process of how it is picked. I won’t go into a lot of detail since you should definitely do this tour and let Fiona tell you everything. But did you know a tea bush can keep producing leaves for up to 70 years? That’s an entire lifetime!
After her talk, we made our way up to the farmhouse for a cup of tea from Kiambethu Farm and some tasty homemade biscuits. I typically have a cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Seeing that I hadn’t had either, the cup of tea gave me the caffeine boost I needed.
Whilst we were all sipping away, Fiona went through the process of how tea is made. She also informed us on the difference between green tea and black tea (again I won’t go into detail here) but it left me appreciating my cup of tea to a point where I wanted to hug it lol.
Her talk made me realise just how influential Kenya has been in the tea industry. Did you know it is the biggest tea exporter in the world? It is not the highest producer since Kenyans don’t consume tea as much as India or China (obviously, since their populations are much higher than Kenya). In fact, over 90% of the tea produced is exported. Mombasa is also the biggest port in Africa for tea, hosting a huge auction every week with tea from all over Africa.
Fiona then invited us to have a stroll with Stephen Njoroge, through her beautiful indigenous forest which is home to many Colobus and Sykes monkeys. Stephen gave us an educational tour showing us the different medicinal uses of the indigenous trees found in the forest.
We then made our way back to the farmhouse for a simple but tasty three-course lunch whilst sipping away on some cold beer.
With the tour concluded, we sat around digesting and relaxing in the garden. Before we made our way back, full of tea bliss!
Fiona is truly a lovely host and if you appreciate your tea as much as I do, I recommend you put Kiambethu Farm on your bucket list!
The cost of the tour was KSH 3,300. This includes a highly insightful tour, a three-course meal, drinks, and very tasty tea. Fiona is working on getting some card machines but in the meantime, you pay by either cash or MPESA.
You can book your tour through their website.