The ARB Ultira Light Snatch Block Is a great way to double the power of a winch. From $88.35 on Amazon
The Rigid Security Bolt Kit means the driving lights can not be stolen. From $21.99 on Amazon

Cameroon Tea Estates

NEW! Click any photo to buy a custom print - gloss, matt, framed or even a postcard!

On the outskirts of a small town we see green plantations stretching into the distance, literally covering every hillside as far as we can see. It turns out this is a huge tea growing region, and a guide book says we can have a free tour of the huge processing plant here at the Cameroon Tea Estates.

I write a formal letter in French requesting a tour, which the secretary passes to the day manager who passes it to the site manager who, well, actually I don’t know where it went but eventually it got approved!
I wish I could apologize to all those people who had to read my French simple smile

into distance 720x480

Tea stretches far into the distance

tea mountain 720x480

A literal mountain of tea

We start the tour outside where the company is building a viewing platform for the waterfall they have on their land, and we can see workers cutting the tea off the plants. They use huge shears and just take off the smallest amount of the new growth, which they throw into the bag on their back. These workers are paid by how many pounds of tea they cut each day, and it looks like extremely hard work in the hot sun.

tea workers cutting tea 720x480

Workers cutting the tea leaves

lady cutting tea with shears 720x480

The workers cut the top off the tea plants by hand, then drop it into the bag on their backs

Later talking to locals we hear these people don’t make much money for a huge days work, and of course when they get home they must then buy food for their family. Many of them are questioning this arrangement, and instead of working for money to buy the things they need, they are going back to working for themselves and simply growing the food they need, cutting out the middle man, and not having a job.

Again, there is a lot to learn here.

tea drying warehouse 720x480

Massive warehouse for the first round of slow drying

stuffing tea down chute 720x480

Stuffing the tea down a chute into the factory.

Moving inside we see where the tea is dried a little in a huge warehouse. We are told this is the slow season – during the busy season the entire warehouse would be jammed packed, we are told. From here it is stuffed down chutes, minced multiple times by multiple different grade and shape blades, dried in a few different ways before it finally goes into the monster drying machine that is pumping out heat from the massive wood furnace.
All the big machinery is straight from India, and it is all extremely loud, and will absolutely zero safety guards or worker protection of any kind. Somehow I had never imagined tea production could be such a huge industrial process.

first mincing 320x480

Mincing up the leaves, round one

little drying 720x480

Now minced, the leaves are dried

all dry 720x480

All dry and finished

As a final stop we are invited into the tasting room, where a couple of very friendly ladies run the show like a testing lab – checking the quality of tea every hour on the hour, and taking various measurements and samples to ensure quality. Everything is meticulously recorded in enormous log books.

tea tasting room 320x480

The very fancy tea tasting room

We enjoy a delicious cup of fresh tea, the leaves of which where were processed less than ten minutes ago.

Delicious!

-Dan

4 Responses

  1. Big says:

    Anyone heard from Dan? I’ve been reading some really scary stuff happening to white farmers over there. Stay safe!!!

  2. Alex Back says:

    An almost slave labour to bring tea to our cups.

  3. Hill says:

    Very intereting. Great pics!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

My ARB Air Compressor means flat tires are not a problem (I had 16 Alaska->Argentina!). From $492.91 on Amazon
My Bolt padlock is extremely convenient becuase it uses the Jeep ignition key. From $19.99 on Amazon