German settlers planted tea in Tanzania in 1905, although commercial production did not begin until 1926. Before independence in 1961, production was mainly in the hands of large-scale growers. Since then, the balance has shifted in favour of independent smallholders. The Tanzanian Tea Authority was set up to buy tea from the independent growers who account for a significant proportion of the annual tea production. Lack of infrastructure and unpredictable rainfall has traditionally hampered the Tanzanian tea industry. In recent years, increased investment has been reflected in rising output.
There are two main growing areas. In the north, the region around Usambara in the Masai Steppe rises up towards Kilimanjaro.In the south, the region around Njombe and Mufindi ,rises up to the mountains that border the Great Rift Valley and Lake Malawi.The traditional tea plantations in Tanzania are in Usambara mountains as well as in Munfindi and Rungwe districts in the southern highlands. The area then extended to Bukoba district on the western shore of Lake Victoria which is located at approximately 20S latitude. The other three districts lie between 50 and 80 S latitudes. In the Usambara district, tea areas are located at altitudes of 900 m to 1400 m while in Mufindi and Rungwe some tea areas are situated at an elevation of 2100 m or a little higher.
The original plantings were with hybrid seeds but large-leaf types are used subsequently. Tea bushes remain in plucking throughout the year.
In Tanzania, the tea is cultivated by smallholders and there are more than 30,000 smallholder tea farmers.The smallholders tea is organized by the Tanzania Tea Authority (TTA).TTA manages a number of tea estates and operates some tea processing factories. Strong and fruity flavours characterise Tanzanian teas, which are produced by the CTC (Cut, Tear, and Curl) method