Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ajiri Kenyan Black Tea

While browsing in a local grocery store, I noticed a display of interesting tea boxes. I loved the design on the box, and noticed that the proceeds provide jobs for Kenyan women and pay school fees for orphans. How could I say no?

According to their website, "Through the sale of Ajiri Tea, we hope to create a sustainable cycle of community employment and education. Ajiri means "to employ" in Swahili, the national language of Kenya...We buy our tea from a tea factory in the Kisii district of Kenya and employ women in Kisii to handcraft the box labels, beads, and twine. All profits are sent back to the community through our donation to the Ajiri Foundation to educate orphans by paying their school fees and purchasing their books and uniforms." Seriously, how could I not buy a box of this tea?

The leaves are tiny, dark, and pellet-like. Not what I was expecting, but I didn't want to judge on just the leaf appearance alone. The leaves are processed using the cut, tear and curl (CTC) process, where leaves crushed to equal pieces.This process uses a short fermentation period, which yields a strong brew. The leaves have a lovely sweet cocoa scent. 
The liquor tastes of whole wheat toast, and dark chocolate. It is a strong brew that is very basic, perfect for the morning and would hold up well to milk and sugar. It's an easy tea to over-steep, so be very careful! A teaspoon for each cup is more than enough, and watch that you don't steep for more than 3 minutes.

There is an interview with the company's founder Sara Holby here. It gives more information about the tea and the company. It is an interesting read.

This tea was named a 2011 North American Tea Champion for CTC Black Tea at the World Tea Expo. Ajiri is a basic, tasty tea with a good cause. So pick some up if you see it in your area!

1 comment:

  1. There definitely is a huge range of qualities among CTC teas! I would not assume that a tea is better just because it is "orthodox" or hand-processed, rather than CTC or mechanically processed, even if there does tend to be a trend of the best artisan teas being produced according to orthodox methods.

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