Monday, March 15, 2010

Tea and Orphans

This is a very old inn in the village of Darstetten, Switzerland where my grandfather lived.

I am a big fan of the things I buy doing double duty, not only giving me something but helping the poor in some way. That is why I often buy from people like SERRV, Ten Thousand Villages, Heifer Project, etc. Well, I found another one – Ajiri Tea's Kenyan Black Tea at The tea comes from the Kisili district of Kenya and is grown by poor farmers, with 1 or 2 acres of tea plants and then processed in the farmer owned Nyansiongo Tea Factory. 100% of the profits are returned to the community to provide educational assistance for orphans. The boxes the tea comes in, the beads and twine used to close the interior bags are all crafted by women in the area. They are quite beautiful, in a rustic, handcrafted way. Ajiri, by the way, means “to employ” in Swahili, Kenya's official language. But I suppose you would like to hear about the tea.

The tea leaves are remarkably tiny, what I think is called fannings in the trade. They look like very small black coffee grounds, but they smell like very, very fresh tea. They continue to smell nice and fresh as they are brewed with boiling water for 2 minutes. I am afraid to brew the tea longer, as a I know that such tiny particles can get quite tannic quickly. I am very pleasantly surprised by the taste of this tea. I expected it to either be ho-hum or nastily tannic, or at the least, not very good. But it's not! It is a perfectly good, pleasant cup of tea. Not nuanced or anything to write reams of paeans about, but a good tea for breakfast or when you just want a nice plain cup. Sometimes I get tired of reviewing teas and just want a cup of reliable black tea and this is certainly one I will turn to many times. My only complaint is I wish the interior bag were easily resealable. Not a biggy.

There are many of these service agencies which sell teas from small farmers or small farm co-operatives. If it is your inclination to have your tea money do double duty, I would urge you to check them out! If their tea is as good as this one, we've all won!


Gingko said...

Thank you for this information! I always love Kenya tea, and often think its low price is not proportional to its quality, compared with tea products from many other sources. The Kenya CTC tea is the first CTC tea I've had and I totally love its fresh taste. Will check out this Ajiri place!

Marlena said...


James said...

This is the best black tea I have ever had. In the article it says that they didn't want to steep it too long. But, I can tell you that I left the bag in for the duration of the cup and it never turned tannic or cloying. It always had a bright and clean finish, one that I never get from other black teas. This is a lovely, fresh, and delightful cup of black tea. I highly recommend it and I only found it today. I will never go back. Great product.