Like most institutions in Uganda, the country’s tea industry has seen many ups and downs over the last half century. Tea has been grown in the country since the days of the British Empire, first planted by Indian immigrants who brought their knowledge with them from plantations back home. Things progressed relatively smoothly for many years and although the industry never reached the size or status of that of neighbouring Kenya, during the mid twentieth century tea became one of the Uganda’s most important exports. All that changed on Aug. 4, 1972 when Edi Amin, who had recently seized government control in a military coup, demanded that all Indians leave the country. This included, of course, the many who owned and managed Uganda’s tea plantations. All business deemed to be “foreign owned”, even though much of the Indian population at the time was born in Uganda, their families having come over generations past, was seized and given to non-Indian citizens. The result? In many cases, tea estates came under the direction of owners had no experience and production began to suffer in terms of quantity and quality.
Things began to turn around for Ugandan tea in 1994. In that year, the European Union backed a donation of $40 million to help tea growers in the country get back on their feet. Even still, the road back for the industry has been as rocky as those leading to the tea estates. To this day, many Ugandan plantations suffer from a lack of available electricity and all suffer from high transport costs (Uganda is landlocked, so tea must be trucked to Mombassa, Kenya, for auction). What’s more, for economic reasons, many Ugandan plantations have yet to be replanted with younger, more productive bushes. Still, growers push forward and today tea is Uganda’s 3rd largest export after fish and coffee, providing sustainable employment for tens of thousands.
One of the best examples of Uganda’s tea output is grown on Mityana Estate. In recent years, Mityana has begun producing premium loose leaf teas to compete with some of the more famous Kenyans. The cup has a medium thickness with a good, rich mouth feel, slight malty notes and medium astringency – it is exceptional with a dash of milk. We’re proud to offer this fabulous tea and to do our part to support Ugandan growers. Serving the cream of Uganda shows your customers that you’re willing to go the extra mile to bring them something special. Enjoy!