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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > July-September 2017 (79) > Time for a cuppa

Time for a cuppa

Nick Redmayne travels to Satemwa Tea Estate in the Shire Highlands to learn about the production of tea and coffee in Malawi and to taste the results
SEA OF GREEN: Pickers at Satemwa Tea Estate are hard at work in the morning light

It’s just after 6am. The air is still and cool. In the lingering morning mist, I follow a hard-trodden earth path through apparently impenetrable vegetation, almost 2m high. Soon an insistent munching sound suggests the presence of large and voracious herbivores. The path rises and the beasts are at last revealed. A team of pickers, their shears hungrily devouring fresh growth, wades through a sea of brilliant green tea plantation.

At 1000m, among the rolling hills of southern Malawi’s Shire Highlands, Satemwa is the country’s last remaining independent tea estate. Owned by the Cathcart Kay family, tea was planted here by pioneering Scot, Maclean Kay, in 1924. Related by marriage to David Livingstone, the family’s roots run deep in the country’s red soil.

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