Kenya is a fascinating, unique region and one of only a few locations on the equator that maintains glaciers.  Ranging from the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya, to the hot, arid floor of the Great Rift Valley and its geothermal activities, to vast plains teeming with amazing wildlife, and finally to the sunny beaches and coastline of the Indian Ocean, Kenya is a country of unique and fascinating features. But aside from its natural attractions, Kenya is also known for the quality tea it grows. The Great Rift Valley splits Kenya in half, right down the middle, with tea growing on both sides.  The Rift Valley floor is far too hot and dry to grow tea, but in the highlands the elevation and upland climate are perfect for vigorous tea growth. Beginning in Nyeri the largest concentration of tea gardens are located one after another, running southward through the regions of Kiambu, Maragua, Muranga, and Thika, ending  just north of Kenya's capital city of Nairobi. These tea gardens range in elevation from 4,900 feet to 8,850 feet. On the western side of the Rift Valley, the majority of tea gardens are also situated in the highland regions of Bomet, Kericho, Kisii, Nandi, Nyamira, and Sotik. There is nearly an equal number of tea gardens located on the east side of the Great Rift Valley in Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Meru, Muranga, and Nyeri. Even though tea grows year round in Kenya, the best tea is plucked early in the year from January through early March,and again in early to mid-summer from the end of June through July.  Plucking is almost all done by hand with each worker plucking an average of 30,000 new leaf shoots each day. Ninety percent of Kenya's tea production is black CTC (cut-tear-curl) tea used mainly in blends for tea bags.  Some Kenyan producers have begun to produce small amounts of green and white "natural" teas, grown at high altitudes where pesticides and herbicides are not needed.

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