Tea farms in Rwanda (Photo by Adam Gibbon)
Tea growing in Rwanda started in 1952. Since its introduction, tea production has increased steadily, from 60 tons of black tea in 1958, to 1,900 tons in 1990, to 14,500 tons in 2000, reaching a peak of 17,800 tons in 2001.Over 90% of the production is exported, but represents only a small share of the total volume traded in the international market, which is about 1.4 million tons.
Rwanda tea is planted on hillsides at high altitude (between 1,900 and 2,500 m), and on well drained marshes at an altitude of between 1,550 and 1,800 m. Tea is grown on 11 estates. A total area of approximately 12,500 ha is planted in the Northern,western and Southern province. Tea plantations must be located near a tea factory because the harvest must be processed within a few hours of picking.