Discover travel destinations of travelers writing a travel journal on FindPenguins.
Add to bucket listRemove from bucket list
Travelers at this place
    • Day67

      Tea Time

      March 8, 2016 in Kenya ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

      The day started out perfect! We grabbed breakfast to go in the morning - beans in a plastic bag, chapatis, and voilà! Bean roll! Our driver Emmanuel showed up on time. We chatted during the hour and half ride to Kericho all about Canada and the differences. Trying to explain winter to someone who's never seen it is slightly challenging. We said in winter everything is covered with snow. Then we said the crops die every winter. Emmanuel hadn't made the connection that snow would make crops die. When he heard it, he was shocked saying "what do you eat if the crops are dead?" Right. We explained super markets. So by his shock, I figured he didn't understand what snow was. I asked if he had ever had ice cream, and he had but rarely because it's too cold for him. So I said the ground was covered with ice cream, and it sometimes felt even colder. He couldn't believe it. Absolute disbelief. He asked how did we survive? What did we wear? Such simple questions that you wouldn't even think of asking coming from that environment. But for someone who's only seen summer temperatures, I get it.

      Arriving in Kericho was where things went a little south. We were brought to a fancy hotel, actually the oldest hotel in Kericho, Tea Hotel. The grounds were beautiful overlooking gorgeous landscapes. The hotel itself showed a little age though. Anywho, we waited 45 minutes for our guide to show up only to tell us the factories were closed today for local elections. Now that's our luck! It's not even a large scale election, the mayor was caught doing something or whatever so they were holding local elections in Kericho only to replace him. The only town in Kenya doing an election, is the one we paid to do a tea tour in. The universe just doesn't want Jack to do a tea tour...

      So she got a little emotional, a little a lot angry, and walked off because she was no longer functional in the conversation of what to do next. The anger mostly came from the idea that this was known, and could have been told to us yesterday, before showing up today. I understand the reaction, she really wanted this to happen, hence the actual tour booking, so I took over the conversation and attempted problem solving. After a lot of back and forth between our driver, our tour guide and Kenneth from Integritours who booked this, we came up with a plan! Half today, half tomorrow. It's not ideal, but this way we get to see everything from picking to processing, and we don't take up too much of tomorrow, since we want to move to the next town. Having only 3 weeks left makes us feel like there's suddenly a dead line and we want to fit everything in.

      After all these discussions, off we go to a nearby tea farm to see the "plucking processes". I learned more then I ever thought I wanted to know about tea. One women can pluck up to 40kg per day. They're "allowed" 5% bad leafs, which really isn't much of a margin for error. The women make it look so easy, yet there's such a technique to it! You take just the top 2 leaves, leaving the rest of the plant perfectly groomed flat. We spent an hour just chatting along the side and inside this tea farm, where Paul, the guide, explained the whole processes. The farmer pays "mama" (the ladies who pluck) 7 shillings per kilo, and keeps 7 shillings. In the farmer's 7 shillings, he has to pay insurance, fertilizer, etc, so really he ends up with 3 shillings per kilo. Kericho is the perfect place to grow tea because you need a certain altitude, it needs an average temperature of 18C, at least that's what it is here, you need rain all year round and for some reason, in Kericho, there's no dry or rain season because it rains all year round, and it needs soil that's self draining. Fascinating. Tea is one of the largest export in Kenya (according to our guides it's the largest), but surprisingly it's the small scale farmers that provide 60% of the tea, not the corporations. Who would have thought the little guy was really the big guy!

      That's enough about tea. I'm all tea'd out. It took us more time to find a guesthouse here then any other town. There weren't very many options and 3 that we finally found and visited were full! We were told it's the elections, people coming to vote. Our luck, I tell ya! Finally found one that fits right in our new pricing goal - 500KSh per night. Not the nicest room I've been in, but not the worse. It's funny what you'll put up with travelling. I wouldn't come close to a washroom like this back home, but here it's tolerable. You have to pick and chose where to put your money, and a room where all we do is sleep, I have no need for something fancier.

      I actually enjoyed this town! Truth be told, we haven't been that big of fans of Kenyan towns so far... But this is one is large enough to have plenty of distractions, yet small enough to walk all of it and not get lost. We grabbed a tea at a little cafe shop and sat in the park in front of our hotel. I'm starting to really enjoy these city parks, there were none elsewhere. Sipped our tea, enjoyed the mix of sounds from the park (which had monkeys FYI) and the busy streets. Walked through a market with the usual staples - used clothing in huge piles, fruits, beans and whatever else for your kitchen needs. Also like every market, the charcoal selling section was covered in a layer of black dust, always looks so dark.

      Bed time - I slept fantastic!! And I say it with such joy because it's been so long! Most cheaper guesthouses are either above bars or in court yards where music is playing until the wee hours of the morning, and people start talking/yelling by 6am. This hotel, as unattractive as the room was, and as much as the bathroom smelled of urine, the bed sad comfy, and everything was so quiet! Just great.

      This time, everything really did go smooth for our tour at the tea factory. Again, too much information on tea... What to do with this knowledge, no one knows. The most interesting fact - all tea, black, green, white, comes from the same plant, same plucking mommas, just different processing! There's steps like laying it out to dry to a certain percentage of moisture (66-67% to be exact), then it goes through the munching machine and then the big rollers that minces it, then fermentation which takes 90-100 minutes and turns the dhool (munched tea is called dhool) from green to brown, then a big heater thing which turns it to black and dries it out further, then a magical conveyor belt separates the tea in grades 1 through 6, 1 being the best and purest tea you can buy. Then of course packaging where big companies decide what percentage of which grades get mixed together for the ideal quality vs quantity ratio for profit. We were taken through the factory by a manager that works there, and Paul, our guide followed. After, he told us not to buy their tea because it wasn't good enough. He then told us what he would do better, like they didn't sort out the bad leafs at the very beginning. They mix too much of the lower grades with higher grades, the result being low quality... More then I ever dreamed of knowing about tea! But very interesting.

      We get dropped off at the bus and off we go! It may not have been the tour we signed up for, but it worked out perfectly. Jack was grinning ear to ear.

      Side note again! I didn't mention it way back when, because I didn't want to start off too negative... But during my second week here, I got my t-shirt and sweater stolen. You spend so much time preparing for a trip, I had put a lot of thought in what I was bringing, actually bought a bunch of new clothes that's perfect for travelling... My sweater was brand new, I paid a ridiculous amount of money for it considering the whole quick dry, no wrinkle, moister wicking, insert fancy clothing words here... Same with my t-shirt - merino wool, quick dry, odor resistant. Gone within 2 weeks of a 3 month trip, stolen from my bag while it was in the custody of the porter in the Siemen Mountains hike. Worst part - I tipped that damn porter! I replaced the sweater with a not so attractive black knit sweater found in the second hand clothing markets in Gonder. I hadn't replaced the t-shirt, just made do with what I had. Problem is - I was down to 2 t-shirts, and only one of them matched my shorts... Lol. So if I'm wearing shorts, for the last 6 weeks, I'm wearing my red shirt, no choice. The grey one I kept for when I was wearing my pants. Well, today I pocked a hole in my grey shirt! Small hole, still wearable, but I think at this point, it's worth getting another shirt. I think the universe was telling me it was tired of seeing the same 2 outfits on rotation! My new t-shirt - blue American eagle, very lightly used, clean, smells fresh, 150KSh. And blue! I get variety with my shorts now! I'm gonna look so good!
      Read more

      I guess from now on you will look at your tea differently... D.L.

    • Day115

      Kericho, du thé, du thé et encore du thé

      February 28, 2019 in Kenya ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

      On a souvent l'image d'une Afrique aride aux paysages brûlés par le soleil... et pourtant... la petite ville de Kericho, à l'ouest de la Vallée du Rift, marque notre entrée dans une Afrique verdoyante.

      Le Kenya est le 3ème producteur de thé, après la Chine et l'Inde, et une grande partie pousse dans cette région. Ses collines sont recouvertes de ces petits buissons bas, d'un vert éclatant et dont les feuilles se retrouveront sûrement un jour dans votre tasse d'eau chaude.

      Ici, les petits producteurs cultivent le thé puis vendent les feuilles les plus tendres à des usines de transformation. Après déshumidification, découpe, fermentation et séchage, on obtient des poudres de thé noir de différentes qualités qui seront consommées partout dans le monde.

      C'est là que nous entendons parler d'une de ces usines un peu éloignée, et qui, d'après des sources non vérifiées, pourrait se visiter !
      Alors, fidèles à nos habitudes, nous prenons le premier matatu vers le village le plus proche, marchons une bonne heure pour tenter notre chance. La balade est magnifique, les gens (comme toujours) adorables et curieux de savoir ce que font deux muzungus, à pied, dans ce coin de campagne.

      Nous arrivons à l'usine et demandons donc si une visite est possible, requête à priori pas commune vue la tête des employés... et nous nous retrouvons dans le bureau du chef qui nous organisera un tour VIP de son usine, le tout gratuitement, bien sûr :) Pari réussi !

      C'est le cœur léger devant ce chaleureux accueil kényan que nous nous apprêtons à quitter le pays. Direction l'Ouganda, en bus évidemment !
      Read more


      Deux muzungus dans un matatu ... :) très très jolies c'est photos, difficile d’imaginer tout ce vert dans ces contrées. Bisous


      Excellent! Bonne continuation! Grosses bises. Jie et Lionel


      Magnifique les chats!! Continuez à vous regaler!!

      4 more comments

    You might also know this place by the following names:


    Join us:

    FindPenguins for iOSFindPenguins for Android