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Plucking tea on the edge of Nyungwe National Park

Plucking tea on the edge of Nyungwe National Park

This wasn’t my first ever tea harvesting experience. A couple of years ago, I visited Shagasha tea estate located in the neighboring district of Rusizi. The tour of Shagasha began in a nursery where I soaked up the technical aspects of germinating seeds and nurturing the sprouting tender trees.

If I was taught this stuff in a classroom setting, it would have sounded like Rocket Science. Luckily, my tour guide’s teaching methodology made the highly technical subject easy to digest.

This post is about my latest tea plucking experiment at Gisakura tea estate located in Bushekeri Sector, Nyamasheke District. Here, I joined a team of pluckers and participated in the labor-intensive manual harvesting.

It was a beautiful day. The beauty of the green Camellia sinensis plants, coupled with the backdrop of green hills and the lush Nyungwe forest’s cover, gave me extra motivation to fill the basket hanging on my back.

I was taught how to identify the right leaves to be picked. A mature tree has an unfurled bud with two or three off shoots. I used my index finger and thumb to snap one leaf after another under a watchful eye of my supervisor.

After mastering the art of plucking tea, I was introduced to Mr. Stephen Wahome, the factory manager. What followed was a crash course tailored around five main stages of processing tea: withering, rolling, oxidation, drying and sorting.

I will share my experiences in the factory in another post. As I mentioned a few days ago, the Nyamasheke expedition will dominate this month’s storylines. Tea will have its fair share of coverage.

The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Nyamasheke is sponsored by Nyamasheke District, The Click Creations, Tec Global Ltd, Elimo Real Estate Ltd and Exposure.

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