Let me introduce you to Ajiri Black Tea from Kenya. I first met these wonderful folks when I attended the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, 2012. I made a point of visiting their booth at the World Tea Expo, 2013. Their mission is more than admirable and I knew I had to include this tea and support this project once we launched 9 Lives Tea’s website.
Ajiri Tea comes to us from Kenya. Their mission is two-fold; to create employment for the women of western Kenya and to educate orphans by paying school fees, purchasing books, uniforms and the supplies they will need while attending school. Kenya has been hard hit by HIV/AIDS and many of the orphans are either under the care of single parents, grandparents, or other caregivers. The education is free, but families are still responsible or the students school supplies. Many of the secondary schools are boarding schools and along with their school supplies, students are required to bring their own mattresses, and basins for drinking water and to wash their clothes. The average fees range from $625-$800 per year.
The beautiful packaging immediately catches your eye. I learned that each label was hand-made by the ladies in Kenya from dried banana tree bark. Each is a work of art. According to their brochure, Ajiri, which means ‘to employ’ in Swahili, currently has 5 women’s groups totaling 60 plus women creating the labels for Ajiri Tea Company. Each box contains 16 tea bags that are tied off dried banana bark twine and beads made from recycled magazine paper – all made by the ladies.
Ajiri Tea is grown by small-scale farmers in western Kenya. The farmers grow the tea on small, 1-2 acre farms in the Kisii Highlands. The leaves are hand-picked, placed in baskets, and then carried to the community tea-buying center. The tea is then brought to the factory and is processed through withering, cut, then oxidized, dried and sorted. All profits are returned to the communities to be used for the children’s education expenses. Ajiri black tea is bold with a rich-flavor and has the certification of the Rainforest Alliance.
9 Lives Tea House is excited to add this tea to its selection and to support the work of the Ajiri Foundation. Please visit their site at www.ajirifoundation.org for more information.
Judith A. Ames-Hardman
9 Lives Tea House
The Great State of Texas