Saturday, July 23, 2011

Auction day on the Coast of Kenya

Right before visiting the auction, we stopped by the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA) headquarters. The EATTA is in charge of running the Mombasa auction - considered by many to be the highest volume tea auction in the world, representing 11 African countries. In addition to working with the auction, they also are engaged in marketing for the tea industry as well as trying to eliminate inefficiencies in the system.

Next came the auction. Tea buyers from around the world gather in one large room and make bids (in English) on lots of tea - each lot generally has 20 bulk bags of tea, about 60-70 kilograms each. Most tea cost between $2 and $3.25 per kilogram, and usually 5-6 lots are sold each minute; so you can imagine how much money is really flowing! The auction even has its own strange code language. When someone says "Thank you" after you purchase a lot of tea, they are actually asking if they can split it with you. It was really interesting to watch this all happen!

The coast of Mombasa at low tide - believe it or not, this is winter in Kenya:

A cart of many-colored roses in the packing room of Finlay's horticulture operation:

This is a special clone of tea intended for producing white tea - it has been selectively bred to have perfect tips for making silver-needles style tea:

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