Kenya plans to open up a specialty and orthodox tea auction in Mombasa in a move expected to make the country the pioneer purple tea sales host.
East African Tea Traders Association (EATTA), which runs the globally renowned Mombasa auction, says plans are at an advanced stage to roll out the trading in purple, green and orthodox tea sales at the weekly auction.
The Tea Directorate said the auction would play a key role by creating clear structures for the marketing.
Currently, only black CTC tea, which Kenya is renowned for, is sold through the auction while some specialty varieties are sold directly to the export market.
"We are doing a feasibility study at the moment to establish if we can have consistent supply at the auction to maintain the trading throughout," said Edward Mudibo, managing director at the EATTA.
Orthodox tea is made from leaves that are processed by traditional methods of withering, rolling and oxidisation while non-orthodox brands such as the popular black tea are manufactured using machines that crush, tear and curl (CTC) the leaves.
Mr Mudibo said the EATTA is in talks with tea buyers, producers and other relevant stakeholders to see how best to execute the plan. The feasibility study will take six months.
Head of Tea Directorate Samuel Ogola said they were working with the EATTA to ensure the plan is implemented within a short time.
"We are in touch with EATTA as we target to introduce an auction for specialty tea in Mombasa to run concurrently with the current one for black CTC tea," he said.
This comes as US-based tea buyer struck a deal to buy specialty tea produced locally for distribution in America.
International Tea Importers and the Tea Directorate signed the crucial agreement last month.
Kenya produces 10 million kilogrammes of purple tea from seven licensed factories in different parts of the country.
A kilogramme of purple tea is sold at Sh1,957 compared to Sh280 for black tea at the auction in Mombasa.