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Tea production in Rwanda

Rwandan tea growing regions are endowed with ideal climate; tropical, volcanic soils and well distributed rainfall ranging between 1200 mm to 1400mm per annum. There are also sunny days which are some of the climatic features of the Tea growing regions.

Tea production labor is manual and much of the tea grown in Rwanda is processed using the Crush, Tear, Curl (CTC) method, making it suitable for use in blends popular in most black-tea markets. CTC-tea has a homogenous taste and a strong generic, bold "tea" flavour and is the base of most Rwandan tea blends as well as a significant portion of breakfast teas.

Higher-quality Rwandan teas are processed using traditional methods, like picking of the tender leaves and bud cyclically, hence being allowed to dry and be "fermented" by enzymes. They are the often highly sought after "single origin" whole-leaf teas. The tea sector consists of 15 tea factories, with an annual production volume of over 25,000 metric tons of dry tea. The area under tea cultivation is approximately 26,000 hectares.

Tea processing and export.

We produce one of the best quality teas in the world.  Approximately 97.3% is exported in raw form. 80% of this is sold in Auctions, 17.3% is sold directly and 2.7% is sold locally.  Every week at the Mombasa auction, Rwanda tea especially Gisovu BP1 fetches the highest price.

NO

FACTORY

OWNER

PROVINCE

1

Mulindi

Wood Foundation

North

2

Sorwathe

Tea Importers

North

3

Mata

Tea group investment

South

4

Kitabi

Rwanda Mountain Tea

South

5

Nshili kivu

Nshili Kivu Tea company

South

6

Muganza Kivu

Muganza Kivu Tea Company

South

7

Mushubi

MIG

South

8

Shagasha

Wood Foundation

Western

9

Gisakura

Tea group investment

Western

10

Gisovu

Mcleodrussel

Western

11

Rubaya

Rwanda Mountain Tea

Western

12

Nyabihu

Rwanda Mountain Tea

Western

13

Pfunda

Mcleodrussel

Western

14

Karongi

Karongi Tea company

Western

15

Rutsiro

Rwanda Mountain Tea

Western

The tea quality and its grades.

Rwanda tea has gained enormous global acceptability because of its quality. The following factors contribute to its quality.  Rwandan climate, abundant rainfall, and the acidic soils due to the high-elevated grounds where Rwanda tea grows. Its strength, bright color, flavor and consistency in manufacturing have made it renown all over the world as a superior beverage. Nature has endowed Rwanda with the best ecological conditions, making Rwanda Tea unique and consistent in quality. Sufficient and willing labor that produce quality tea, a good altitude of 1800m above sea level, over 87% of the cultivated area (9,071 ha) is situated in the high mountain areas.

Primary tea grades

  • BP1 Broken Pekoe 1
  • PF1 Pekoe Fannings 1
  • PD Pekoe Dust
  • D1 Dust 1

Secondary tea grades

  • D Dust
  • F1 Fannings 1
  • BMF Broken Mixed Fannings
  • BMFD Broken Mixed Fannings Dust

RWANDA TEA COMPANIES THAT SELL VALUE ADDED TEA

Rwanda Tea Packers LTD (Rwanda Mountain Tea)
Rwanda Mountain Tea Ltd prides itself on consistently delivering high quality wholesome tea to the world markets. At the factory level, the tea manufactured is tasted every hour to ensure it has the required quality standards of brightness, flavor and aroma.

Routinely these teas are tasted by tea experts or introduced into competition with other teas in the world to ensure top quality is attained and maintained. Not only is quality and consistency extolled, but also safety at each production level.

Certifications to attest to compliance and standardization of best practices in the food sector are regularly renewed and audits conducted by international certifying bodies.

The following tea categories are produced.

1-    Conventional tea

Black CTC

Our factories produce some of the best black CTC teas. The black tea produces a dark coppery brew with rich, full-bodied flavors. They offer for sale black CTC tea from the tea factories of Rubaya (recognized for its great colorful cup), Nyabihu and Kitabi (recognized for their tasty bright infusion) in a variety of grades, namely BP1, PF1, PD and Dust 1 for the primary grades; and Dust, Fngs1, Dust2 and BMF for the secondary grades. Rwanda Mountain tea Ltd offers for direct sale 30 % of its annual production of black tea.

Green Tea

Our green tea, which is produced at the Rubaya tea factory using the CTC manufacturing method, produces a light yellow-green brew much prized by health conscious consumers who value its anti-oxidant properties. This production is mostly availed in blended and packaged forms by Rwanda Tea packers Ltd.

2-    Specialty tea

Organic black CTC

Rwanda Mountain Tea Ltd produces organic black CTC in a variety of grades from its tea factory of Rutsiro, and from Busenyi block in Kitabi. These teas hold EOS and NOP certifications, and are audited regularly to ascertain close adherence to the organic requirements. They are mostly for export to international niche markets. A small percentage is sold at the Mombasa weekly auction market.

Organic green CTC

Rwanda Mountain Tea Ltd has started production of green organic CTC tea from its tea factory of Rutsiro. This tea will mostly be for export to niche markets worldwide.

Organic orthodox tea

Rwanda Mountain Tea Ltd has completed installation of a line of orthodox tea manufacture at its tea factory of Rutsiro. The orthodox tea manufactured will be mostly for export purposes.

  • SorwathéTea Factory

This is one of largest tea factories in the country, manufacturing an impressive five million tons annually, and accounting for fifteen percent of Rwanda’s total tea output. Focusing primarily on the export market, the CTC factory has been set up with four full lines of modern machinery, including computerized monitoring. It adheres to all necessary international ethical norms and industrial standards. In the field, twenty percent of the growing is in traditional plantation model, while the other eighty percent is formed by cooperatives of smallholders.

The company-owned tea fields are visibly defined. The neatly pruned plantation fields are a clear contrast from the “freestyle” patchwork of the cooperative’s land. At the end of the day, all of the green leaf passes through the same factory. Sorwathé is certified fair-trade, Rainforest Alliance and Ethical Tea Partnership. Recent estimates suggest that around 10,000 families are now sustained by the project.

Gisovu Tea Estate

The estate is situated at an altitude of 7,500 feet above sea level and close to the furthers source of the River Nile in the nearby Nyungwe Forest, the oldest ice age forest in Africa. Gisovu Tea Company Limited is a part of the Mcleod Russel Group.

Gisovu has ideal growing conditions for producing some of the finest teas in the world and are highly sought after for their briskness, flavour and exceptional quality. Gisovu was adjudged the overall winner at the 2011 Africa Tea Convention held at Mombasa, Kenya and was also the winner of the best PF grade tea at the 2013 Tea Convention held in Kigali.

Gisovu tea is an excellent self-drinking tea and is not blended with other teas or substances, scents and /or flavourings. Teas from Gisovu have been described by a leading tea merchant and retailer in the UK as “Deliciously crisp and refreshing with a rich golden color, this really is one of the world’s finest black teas”.
Silverback is the retail trademark for the premium tea that is produced by the Gisovu tea estate in Rwanda. Silverback tea is not blended; it is a single estate tea from Gisovu tea estate. Almost all of the 2.2 million kgs of tea produced by us are sold to established tea buyers and blenders worldwide, but we are keen to give tea lovers an opportunity to taste and enjoy a fresh cup of single estate Gisovu tea. We do not use pesticides of any sort in Gisovu tea estate. Gisovu currently produces CTC (Crush Tear and Curl) tea and Orthodox teas on order. Gisovu is a Rain Forest Alliance certified tea estate and Gisovu tea factory is HACCP22000 certified.

Highland Tea

Highland Tea is from the Central African Highlands in Rwanda. Its watershed between Africa’s two largest river systems, the Nile and the Congo. Rwandan soils impart distinct flavors, aromas and fragrances on Rwanda tea making it a most refreshing hot drink to enjoy any time of the day. Our package contains 50 bags of tea weighing approximately 2g each.

Other brands include PFUNDA Tea Company.
We also have 11 tea factories in Rwanda that sell in bulk and these are Mulindi, Shagasha, Gisakura, Kitabi, Mata, Nshili Kivu, Gisovu, Pfunda, Sorwathe, Rubaya (RNT), Nyabihu (RMT).

Plucking, Manufacturing and Quality

Rwanda’s distinct and high quality tea is made from the upper two leaves and a bud. The young shoots are plucked in regular cycles ranging from seven to fourteen days. Rwanda tea is mainly manufactured using the Cut, Tear and Curl (CTC) method to ensure maximum cup page per unit weight. Rwanda prides itself as the producer of the best black tea in the world due to the good agronomical and manufacturing practices and the ideal tea growing conditions. Rwanda tea liquors range between good medium to very fine qualities, attributes that make it the most sought after beverage in the world. When processing the tea is graded into different grades which major grades are:

Leaves and granules

  • BP1: Broken Pekoe 1 forms about 12–14% of the total production. It has the largest size. The liquors are a bit light in body but with encouraging flavouring characteristics
  • PF1: Pekoe Fanning 1. This is about 58–60% and forms the bulk of the production. Its made up of black grainy particles slightly smaller in size than the BP1 grade.
  • Fngs1 (Fannings): The mixture has traces of black tea and large amount of smallish cut fibres often sifted out of the primary grades. F1 forms about 3–4% of the production and quite useful in tea bags due to its quick brewing, strong flavour and good colour.


Fine particles

  • PD: Pekoe Dust. It forms 10–12% of the production, often black and finer than the PF1 often with thick liquors and aroma.
  • Dust: Made up of tiny bits of broken leaf often used to brew strong tea quickly and popular for the tea bags.
  • Dust1: This is made up of the smallest particles and form about 4–6% of the total production.

Nursery and Field management

Rwandan tea nurseries are established in a way that the young plants can be raised under controlled conditions of light, water, and temperatures, pests, diseases and weeds control. The tea nurseries are strategically located in order to provide maximum ease in management and good establishment of the plants. The following basic requirements are normally observed when raising a tea nursery:

  • Their sites are near a suitable and adequate water source, they are sheltered from prevailing wind,
  • Their sites are close to sources of suitable soil for easy filling, on sloppy areas, the sites face the sun, valleys and areas prone to frost should be avoided.
  • The site areas are accessible and secure.

Pruning

Pruned tea trash is left to decompose for sustainable soil fertility. Recommended practices are observed for sustainability of the tea plant as per tea growers’ handbook or approved producer manual.

Compliance in Quality and Safety

To assure the local and international markets of sustained safety and quality of the Rwandan tea, the government conducts continuous tea factories compliance audits on tea regulations and guidelines as well as on aspects of good agricultural practices.