Ringtons in Origin: Kenya

Ringtons in Origin: Kenya

This is Jake...you've probably seen him on our website, emails, or on social media. 

Jake is an expert tea buyer and blender here at Ringtons who tastes over 1,500 cups of tea per week. He's been looking after our blends for the past six years!

Recently, he took a trip to Kenya to visit some of the tea gardens where we source our tea from. We sat down to ask him more about his recent trip. 

What was the purpose of the visit to Kenya?

At Ringtons, we are proactive in the pursuit of quality, and it all starts at the source. We make a conscious effort to visit our producers regularly to ensure the highest cultivation, harvesting and production standards are in place. This ensures we get the best possible cuppa, every time. 

I met the whole team involved, from factory managers to those on the ground, I saw it all! From how our tea is grown, harvested and produced.

I also took the opportunity to meet new potential partners and explore other locations where great tasting tea is made; building global connections across Kenya. 

What did the trip entail?

I visited eight different tea factories during the trip. On a typical visit, we like to meet the factory teams and tour the vast tea fields as we inspect the conditions of the crops. 

It's important to conduct inspections of the crop up-close, making notes on the leaf quality.

We're often given a tour of the factory and production facilities as well specific parts of the process such as the 'withering troughs'. 


Then we taste! We join the team and use a similar format and process we do here at Ringtons HQ, making sure everything is tasting as it should.

It was a long trip with 12-hour days and lots of travel in between destinations. 

I was joined by fifth generation Ringtons director Elliot Smith for part of the trip where we were given the opportunity to plant avocado trees close to the factory. This is a Fairtrade funded project creating provisions for future trade within local communities. 



What did you enjoy the most?

Meeting the teams and building personal relationships with those I work closely with. Meeting Nancy from the Nduti Factory was a particular highlight. You can read a profile on Nancy here.

It's so important for us regularly meet with our producers, working closely together to refine their production to meet the needs of Ringtons and our customers. 

It was incredibly rewarding and comforting to witness first-hand the level of care and attention that our suppliers take when it comes to our tea, and the steps they're willing to take for future development, it's an exciting time!

Even though I already know a lot about tea, I leaned a lot from the trip. I learned more about plucking standards, effective ways of documenting critical quality controls, and methods of continuous improvements. 

Plus I got to see some amazing wildlife!


What else did you do during your trip?

After being away for a total of 10 days and traveling over 130km to visit eight tea factories, it was time to start the journey home, but not without a visit to see some very special children.

I organised a trip to the Kipchamgaa Children's Home in Kericho, around 5 hours North-west of Nairobi. 

Following a tour of their home, the children welcomed me with a local song, and I explained that I’d flown to meet them from a local tea and coffee company in the North East of England.

What they didn't know was that we had also packed an extra suitcase full of toys and essential supplies for the children. 

The children were absolutely delighted with the kind contributions, and as you'd expect, I soon lost their attention when the toys were opened.

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