17 Aug

Over the past seven years or so, I have been grabbing every opportunity to sharpen my tea plucking skills. Sometimes I serve as an instructor while offering tour guiding services to tea enthusiasts.

Tea experiences help tourists to trace the genesis of their beloved beverage and gain an insight into its supply chain. The need to offer study tours to consumers hailing from countries that don't grow tea has created a new product in the tourism industry.

I wasn't planning to visit any tea plantation during the 30 Districts Expedition. My first stop in Nyabihu District was supposed to take place in Bigogwe Sector. However, while riding along the Jenda Sector stretch of the highway, I was awestruck by the beauty of those sprawling green fields I always write about. The allure of the manicured camellia sinensis plants was irresistible. Just like that, I found myself diverting from the script.  

There are currently 24,000 hectares of tea and 18 factories in Rwanda. The growth of the highly organized sub sector has led to the formation of 21 cooperatives and a couple of companies providing outgrowing services. Tea is grown on highlands and well drained marshlands between 1,500 and 2,500 meters above sea level.

Highlands and well drained marshlands describe the Land of 1,000 Hills pretty accurately. No wonder the famed green crop covers tens of thousands of hectares in Rwanda.

As the country positions herself as an investment magnet, more and more chunks of land are expected to be converted into tea plantations. It seems like my future tours will have more unscripted stopovers.

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