History of Zimbabwe’s Tanganda Tea

The Tanganda Tea Company has its origins in farming in the Chipinge district of Zimbabwe as far back as 1910, over 100 years ago.  The name ‘Tanganda’ itself comes from the name of a river that runs through one of the Company plantations, but to most Zimbabweans, it is now synonymous with tea.


Tea was first planted commercially in Zimbabwe in 1924, when two Assam planters, Arthur Ward and Grafton Phillips, using seeds carried back from Assam by Mrs Florence Phillips, established a small tea plantation on New Year’s Gift estate in the Chipinge district of the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe.  From this small beginning, Tanganda has developed the country’s largest tea company in Zimbabwe.


1925 – A bold decision was made in 1925 to attempt to grow tea on an experimental scale, for the cultivation of tea was considered to require at least 1270 mm of rain per year and no rainfall records had previously been kept at New Year’s Gift.  It was not until the nursery of tea seedlings produced from seed specially imported from Assam was established, that it became evident that the rainfall was much below requirements.  Undefeated by this adverse factor, however, one of the many early setbacks, it was decided to experiment with irrigation from the Tanganda River which flows through the estate.  This unique experiment in tea cultivation proved successful and the irrigated garden flourished.


1928 – During 1928, a few grammes of tea from the first plantings were plucked and manufactured in the homestead kitchen by Mrs Florence Phillips and samples were sent to London and Calcutta for tasting and approval by professional Tea Tasters.


1930 – Together with a few friends in the tea industry in the United Kingdom and India, Messrs Ward and Phillips established a company which was later expanded into the Rhodesia Tea Estates Limited, which started with just 3.5 hectares of tea.


From these humble beginnings, the Tanganda Tea Company now comprises six estates; New Year’s Gift, Ratelshoek (established 1932), Jersey and Zona (established 1944) and Avontuur/Petronella (established 1990) with a combined yield of 10,000 tonnes of tea per annum.


The Meikles family got involved with Tanganda Tea Estates in the early 1930s and has overseen the development of the Company ever since then.


The name Tanganda, so intimately connected with the prosperity of the original estate at New Year’s Gift, is now known for its quality, strength, freshness and full flavor qualities which are constantly being improved as a result of continuous care and research.


The Tanganda Tea Company (Beverage Division) now consists of a blending and packaging plant in Mutare with sales and distribution depots in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare. Products are distributed to wholesale and retail outlets on both the domestic and export markets. The administration and financial controls for the division are located in Harare.


Major company brands include the following:  Stella, Tanganda, Silver, Joko, Special Blend Teabags, Tanganda Tips, Classic Gifts, Fresh Leaves and Rooibos.


Tanganda opened its mineral water bottling plant in August 2006, initially producing over 7,123 cases of ‘ tinga mira’ water.  By year end 2010, the Company produced almost 267,000 cases and with the installation of the new bottle blowing machine, by working three shifts a day, the Company is able to produce 25,000 bottles (500 mls) of water daily.



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