Tea in Malawi

Chrissie and me

Thursday morning, I bundled into a 1987 Nissan pick-up truck with our good family friend Chrissie and her mother.  Chrissie and her family have been close with Sandy’s family for almost ten years.  They have been quick to adopt us and make us feel at home.  Chrissie was taking her mother back to the village where she lives and offered to let me come along.  Chrissie’s mother is an amazing woman.  At 82 years old, she is strong and quick and managed the (extremely) bumpy ride through the country-side more gracefully than I did.

We took a nice paved road out of Blantyre and through the peaceful suburbs.  After about 15 minutes of driving, the landscape became lush, mountainous, and gorgeous.  Like every road in Malawi, there were people walking or biking along side.  Many of the women exhibited super human strength carrying bushels of firewood, fruit, vegetables, or buckets of water on their heads.

After another twenty minutes or so, the landscape changed again.  As we started passing large tea estates, I suddenly felt like I was in Tuscany except it was tea instead of vineyards.  Tea fields stretched out on gentle hills as far as you could see.  Long avenues were lined with tall blue gum trees.  Entrances to the estates were well manicured with brightly colored flowers and bushes.  The tea plants themselves were beautiful – they were a really gorgeous shade of brilliant lime green – I hope it comes out in the pictures.

It turns out that Chrissie owns several large plots of land and grows tea as part of a conglomerate.  We turned off the tarmac into a large estate where she has her three parcels and onto a mud path full of rocks and ruts.  One time we bounced so high that the camera sitting in my lap flew off into the floor.  Another time I tried to take a picture out the window with said camera, but the truck was jumping so much, the fool-proof auto focus couldn’t zero in on anything. 

When we arrived at her main piece of land, we got out (it took me a minute for my legs to adjust – dirt road legs, like sea legs) and she showed me how they harvest the leaves by snapping off the youngest two or three leaves along with the bud.  The workers carry big sacks on their backs full of the blooms.  The tea is then weighed and sent to the large processing center on the estate.  I loved experiencing the whole process and was so appreciative of Chrissie taking me to see it all.  Having spent some time in the Southern US, Chrissie knows of our propensity for  tea, preferably iced and sweet.


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10 responses to “Tea in Malawi

  1. 2frugalfoodies

    WOW. What an incredible experience….and you’re right – so beautiful and Tuscan-like. Great pictures, too. It’s almost 10am, and you’ve inspired me to have some tea!

  2. 2frugalfoodies

    ohh – GREAT new header picture, too!!

  3. Barb

    Thank you once again. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Every day seems to be an adventure for you. Cannot believe Chrissie is 82 – glad you feel you have good friends there already. That is important. Safe traveling to Sandy this week.

  4. Ginny

    Glad you got to reconnect. The new header photo is awesome! Keep posting!

  5. Ginny

    Oh, Kate, I like you skirt too!

  6. Mama

    Wow. I am moving to Malawi. Those pictures are absolutely beautiful. What a fantastic experience you two are having. We will love the tour when we finally get there!!!

  7. Oh Kate,
    We so look forward to every word that you write and thank you so very much for giving us such vivid pictures of your Malawian world; we love hearing about mangos and monkeys and tea fields and blue paint and and people. Your pictures are also wonderfully chosen to make us see everything! Thank you, thank you!
    We so thought of you several weeks ago in D.C.;we had supper at the Daily Grill and so thought of our meal there with you . . . we raised our glasses to you!
    Happy, Happy Third Anniversary a little late!!!

  8. Margaret

    The roads sound similar to the roads in Brazil. Ouch! You will never worry about a “pot hole” again. We have six inches of snow and I am sipping tea, you are right it comes from a beautiful green plant. Thanks for sharing and love to you both.

  9. alex Evans

    Wonderful story. We miss Chrissie. She is a dynamo! Glad you had a nice day. And that Mt Mulanje – the one Sandy climbed on his last venture there with Sapitwa as the name of the top (which means “the place of no return”). Great pictures and insights. It makes us feel as if you are not so far away. And oh yea, nice skirt too. Love you.

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