Company History

Company History

Every cup of rich Karirana tea is served with a healthy dose of history.

In 1903, the first tea seedlings were introduced and planted in Limuru, Kenya about 5 kilometers from Karirana. The Caine brothers brought these seedlings from India. Limuru, being at high altitude and with rich acidic soils, provided a natural habitat for tea to flourish. However, commercial cultivation of tea in Kenya began in the early 1920’s.

Between 1925 and 1930, two brothers from the Turnstall family of the United Kingdom planted the first tea in what now comprises Karirana Estates. Most of the farms that now make up Karirana were originally used for rearing cattle or growing wattle and geraniums before the land use changed to tea cultivation.

In 1956, Karirana Estates Limited was incorporated when Mackenzie Dalgelty bought a number of farms to grow and manufacture high quality tea for export and appointed George Williamson Kenya Limited the managing agents.

Most of the tea was planted between 1956 and the late 1960s. The factory was also built during this period and commissioned in 1960.

In 1986, First Chartered Securities Limited, a Kenyan investment holding company, acquired Mackenzie Kenya Ltd, and thereby gained ownership of Karirana. With this transition to local ownership, George Williamson ceased being the managing agents and Karirana became self-managed.

Today, Karirana tea is renowned worldwide as a truly unique tea. The tea, grown east of the Great Rift Valley between the famous Aberdares ridge and the towering snow-capped Mt. Kenya, at 2,300 meters above sea level, is inherently a high quality tea.

Limuru is endowed with a cool climate, which leads to relatively slow growth giving the tea, like fine wine, adequate time to mature.

Karirana has over the years acquired a reputation of a global leader in production of quality tea, a reputation that has been developed through continuous improvement initiatives and a professional approach to management of the tea business.

The production capacity has been expanded over the years from 15,000 kgs of green leaf per day at the set up of the factory to the current 100,000 kgs of green leaf per day. The annual capacity is about 4 million kgs of made tea.

The estate is located 10 kilometers east of Limuru town and about 40 kilometers north west of the city of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, making it easily accessible from Nairobi.

With the high altitude, cool climate, naturally acidic soils, our estates snake through the lavish green scenery of the Limuru hills, which many local and international tourists love to visit.

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