In line with the current #whyilovekenya campaign, this post covers one of my 101 reasons:Country Living. I like to pride myself as a country girl in heels. I love the country but I love my heels more 🙂 . On the weekend I revisited Kiambethu Farm and this time was keen to actually carry a camera with me. Kiambethu Farm was the first place in Kenya where tea was commercially planted, by AB McDonell in 1918. The farm was selling tea by 1926. McDonell’s daughter, Evelyn Mitchell, took over the farm and began running tours. Now past 100 years old, Mrs Mitchell has handed the running of the farm over to her daughter Fiona Vernon, a lovely lady who is extremely welcoming to guests from all over the world on daily basis to her house.
This is one of Kenya’s Tea growing areas with the altitude about 2,300 meters so carry a light jacket and get ready for some lovely cup of tea and great sceneries. They do offer tours 6 days a week and this can be booked directly or through some tour operators. It costs US$ 32 (Kes 3,200) per person and half price for kids below 12.
I remember the Friday before the tour day that Saturday morning, temperatures were pretty low and the fog everywhere. As much as I was excited for our day out, I was dreading the bad weather but Alas Saturday morning I got up and bam… the sun was out. Though temperatures were at a low of 13, the weather app promised it would get better and it did indeed get better. After an early morning basking session we headed to Kiamebthu Farm and got there just before 11 when the tour starts.
As soon as you drive in to her compound Chuma the dog plus all the other sausage dogs come racing at you and are eager to welcome you to the vast grass with beautiful flowers. My 1st instinct is always get my shoes of and start running around like I did growing up but I resist each time. As soon as most guests have arrived we head down into the tea fields where Fiona is keen to give us a brief introduction on her 2 acre land of tea, the picking process and the tea country culture. It is all fascinating and like at the time we were there the tea pickers were on strike mainly due to politics with the tea factories in the neighborhood. The pickers are paid based on how much they pick and the quality of the leaves. All the tea in this region is handpicked and we learned that this improves the quality. Kenyan tea has very high levels of caffeine and in most cases it is used as a blend with less strong tea.
I am not the biggest fan of tea (scratch that, I take tea a maximum of 3-5 times a year) but I like the idea of having lunch in a beautiful farm. We went into the house for a couple minutes of tea chats – from tea granules, to tea scents, and the tea processing. The Tea factories are not welcoming to guests and so Fiona gives as proper as possible a talk of how the steps of tea processing.
Most of the land bought by Fiona’s granddad is indigenous forest which the family has retained until today. Julius, our guide who has been with the Mitchell family for years on end was keen to give us loads of information about the different species of trees and their medicinal uses. It somehow felt like a chemist talk since half of the leaves and barks could be boiled and taken to heal anything from tooth ache, tummy ache or more severe ailment like arthritis. It was all fascinating with the the monkey buffet where they place food scraps for the Colobus and Sykes monkeys.
On the farm, they also have their own “icecream makers” thats what they call their cows. They do look very beautiful. The are swans as well but on this visit I didn’t get to see them.
By the time we got back to the house, the garden had been set up with tables and chairs under colorful umbrellas in readiness for lunch. They offer juices, ice teas, wines, beers, and water for refreshments all throughout lunch.
The food itself is incredible; my favourite is always the butternut casserole and the cheese platter for dessert. The food is all made from all organic food stuff grown in their own farm . It fresh and delicious and includes salads, vegetables, soups, crackers, fruits, casseroles, cheese, cakes and homemade ice cream.
After lunch we got to relax some more enjoying the beautiful views and warm sun which is rare in July. It is always a great staycation especially since its literately 20 minutes walk from my house, it never disappoints.
I would recommend combining this excursion with horseback riding through the tea fields. I will be writing about this soon. Until then enjoy your cuppa 🙂
Country living at its best,