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31 July 2010

Zimbabweans and their vital cuppa tea

Zimbabwe has generally a very favourable climate throughout the year. For some places though, like Chipinge, there are times when the temperature plummets below favourable…well below favourable (for those who were not so keen on high school geography, Chipinge is a small town in the Eastern Highlands region of Zimbabwe). At such a time in such a town, that is when I found myself huddled up late at night finding solace in a warm black cup of tea.

On my third cup, the random wandering of an idle mind started pondering, of all topics, the avid tea drinking habits of the average Zimbabwean. It could have been a passing thought until I realized that these habits can’t possibly be normal.

I first noticed this fact when I went away to college. Prior to that, I used to fancy myself a champion tea drinker until I met a whole load of individuals who effortlessly laid shame to my claim day after day. This one guy had an early morning cup to jumpstart the day, then a one or two cups to support the breakfast meal at around ten. Lunch was also accompanied by a cup, and the same applied to supper. Oh, and if he happened to stay up late, the count of cups could rise significantly. I could tell you the number of cups he would have during exam periods (and the day he broke up with a long standing girlfriend), but you wouldn’t believe me.

Ok, I have to admit that this guy could be in the extremes, but Zimbabweans drink a lot of tea - and that’s a fact. Tea drinking in the country is more popular than the much more vital glass of water. Why, breakfast is not even called breakfast in this country- its called tea.

And our specialty is black tea. We don’t care if there is green or white or oolong tea. We don’t even care for the supposedly healthier herbal alternatives that they want to call tea, but are really just dried leaves and flowers from other plants. We stubbornly stick to our good old black camellia sinensis tea. (Please note: tea is not named, as some might have erroneously assumed, from the existence or absence of colour altering additives such as milk. It is named from how it is processed).

Chipinge Rural google satellite mapsIt came to my attention that Zimbabwe exports 15 000 tonnes of tea a year (that’s according to the UK tea council). Now that is a lot of tea by any standards, if you ask me. It all started some 80 years ago when some very enterprising spirit planted the first seeds on an estate known as New Year’s Gift in the Chipinge district of the Eastern Highlands (Click on maplandia to find out where that is)

Could it be that we drink so much tea because we make so much of it?

Maybe, I don’t know, but that is the conclusion I reached over my fourth vital cuppa tea. The fact remains that we never looked back ever since!

1 comment:

MORSET said...

no comment at all.

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