Bente from Kilimanjaro Specialty tea is experimenting with African clay pots

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In our introduction post Bente from Tanzanian Kilimanjaro Specialty tea told us about the special way of creating tea she was working. Stories About Tea asked her to explain more about using African clay pot to create her teas.

How are the trials for the new teas going?
We did quite a few trials and have right now reached a stage were my tea processing team has reached their limit and needs a break. They are on overload I realized so I am letting things settle for now, although I have so many more ideas I want to try. As I wanted to learn so much more, so we asked Joyce Teamaster to come. She was born in Kenya, but has been living and working for a long time in the UK. Together we had so many ideas as to how to work about the African style, which kickstarted the trials this month!

What is your aim when you create new teas?
I do not like standstill and like to constantly learn new things. Not only in tea, in every aspect of life. Tea is so magic, as with the very same leaf, I can create so different tastes. It really is about the nuances obviously, but that’s good for people who are able to taste those slight shades of a different flavor profile.

In the first post you wrote: “We are working on finding our African style using African earthenware and natural materials.” What do you mean with African style?
I realized I was trying to do everything how it’s done in other tea producing countries that have a long tea history. And somehow it came to my mind that that’s wrong. I should do the same thing but use traditional materials like earthen Cooking Pots. The idea came when I watched a video as to how to give a tea pot a memory. I spoke with a Tanzanian lady friend who is 65 years old, who was old enough to remember cooking in the traditional pots. So I learned after 29 years in Africa, that the African cooking pot is used the same way as clay tea pots in tea. One is for fish and one is for meat etc. so then I thought I might be able to try those pots for my tea. So instead of roasting my leaf in a steel pan, we are using a earthen pot and the same for steaming, no fancy equipment. Just very down to earth and low tech, steamed in a clay pot. I have a few more materials in line.

What new teas are you working on?
The new teas are: a pot roasted  green tea, a pot steamed green tea and an hand shaken ( in local baskets) and then hand rolled Oolong. The last tea is Silver Needles sun dried.

What are the next steps when the trials are finished?
Produce a few kilos of each new type of tea.Oh, and we are also working on the clay tea pot which I have shown on our Instagram a few times. That one is beautiful but impossible to touch when the tea is in there. So with a potter Friend of mine I am working on making it possible to pour the tea without losing the African cooking pot shape. And when my team has some more capacity to learn more new teas, I will continue the tea adventure!

Read more from Bente:
Meet Bente from Tanzanian Kilimanjaro Specialty Tea!

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