Luponde Tea Estate, Tanzania

Luponde Tea Estate, Tanzania

This month we visited the Luponde Tea Estate, in the Njombe district, in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. Renowned for its excellent environmental practices of natural tea husbandry, Luponde produces one of the nicest and most respected teas in Tanzania.

Tanzania is the only country where tea was first planted by the Germans in 1904. German control of the country lasted from the 1800s until 1919 when under the League of Nations, becoming a British mandate until independence in 1961. It wasn't until 1926 that tea was commercially grown here and as success prevailed, more tea estates flourished, one of which is Luponde, which we visited this month.

With a hot and humid eastern shore bordering the Indian Ocean, and a mountainous, densely forested area in the northeast, Tanzania is one of the most important tea-producing countries in Africa. It has a warm, tropical climate with seasonal patterns of precipitation - a perfect recipe for growing tea. Although much of Tanzania is too dry for tea, the Luponde plantation flourishes in the high altitude region, 7000ft above sea level.

Tea at the Luponde estate is harvested in the early morning, with the female-led workforce starting the day with a tea and some chapatti. The skilled workers expertly pick the top two leaves and the bud from each tea plant. They carry their wide-brimmed bamboo baskets within easy reach to put in each handful of harvested leaves. This attention to detail means that the orange pekoe tea at Luponde commands a premium in the export market.

Why we love Luponde
Much softer and more mellow than other Tanzanian teas, yet with an aromatic zest and a fine length of flavour. Malty with a nutty character, Luponde can be drunk with or without milk and we just love the versatility.

Location: Njombe district
Country: Tanzania
Capital City: Dodoma
Coordinates: 08°51′S 034°50′E
Elevation: 190m above sea level
Soil type: Clay-loam pH 4.4-5.5
Manufacture: Luponde
Season: November-December
Av temp: 31°C
Estate size: 730 hectares

> The only country where tea was first planted by Germans in 1904.
> Population of 57m, with 700,000 in the region.
> Freddie Mercury of band ‘Queen’ was born in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
> Nearly 30% of Tanzania is National Park Region.
> It is home to Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro.
> 1.5 million animals migrate through the Serengeti National Park.
> The shortest war in history was fought with the UK in 1896 and
lasted only 45 minutes.