Kenya is one of the important tea growing countries in the world. The first Kenyan teas were planted in 1903, although the industry made little impact on the world market until 1950s. The principal tea-growing districts are located in an area lying between Mount Kenya and Lake Victoria on either side of the Rift Valley. Kericho is the main tea-growing district in the west followed by Nandi, Sotik and Kisii around Kericho.Tea planting has expanded to Kitale district north of Nandi. Limuru is the main tea-growing district in the east although some twa has been planted in Meru and Nyeri near Mount Kenya. The tea estates are located on either side of the equator. Planting is done at an elevational range of 1600 m to 2250 m, the average elevation of tea areas in the eastern part being higher than that in the west.
The tea industry in Kenya is dominated by large commercial Houses.But tea areas under smallholders cultivation has been increasing. At present, about 66 percent of tea areas in Kenya are owned by the smallholders and there are around three lakh individual growers having an average holding size of more than half ha.The Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA), formed in 1964, is responsible for development of smallholders’ tea production in all areas suitable for tea cultivation. Approximately, 277,000 independent growers are affiliated to the KTDA, and collectively they raise more than 60 percent of the Kenyan tea crop. The growers deliver their green leaf to the buying centres of KTDA where a plucking standard of two leaves and a bud is enforced to guarantee production of made tea. Seasonal variations are small, so the tea bushes flush all year round, with the best teas picked in February and March. Kenya produces only black tea and about 90 percent is CTC manufacture.