Learn about the tea you drink with a feast!

Thursday, August 12th, 2021 00:00 |
MAIN: Chef Joseph Vukaya with colleagues ready to serve their guests with a smile. BELOW: Kiambethu Tea Farm owner Fiona Vernon during the tea farm tour. Photo/PD/HARRIET JAMES

My adventure spirit recently took me to a hidden gem Kiambethu Tea Farm in Tigoni, Limuru, and I was fascinated by the many things I learnt about tea.

The house once hosted former United States President Jimmy Carter and his family, and still attracts a lot of visitors. 

Fiona Vernon, the owner of the farm takes her guests through the history of Kenyan tea and narrates how ‘fate’ saw her handle tea tours that she had once swore to her mother she would never do.

You’ll also fall in love with the well-manicured gardens and the view of the Columbus monkeys jumping from tree to tree and the sounds of birds chirping.

The view of the lush green acres of tea plantations is magnificent; they seem to disappear from the horizon.

But apart from the tea lessons, which took about 30 minutes between walks and moments of breathing fresh air from the expansive farm, there was the food bit, which I cherished the most.

There were a few refreshments on the table, but I preferred taking iced tea as we waited for the sumptuous home cooked lunch. 

Chef Joseph Vukaya served the starter,, which entailed vegetable soup made from carrots, potatoes, leeks and vegetable stock.

I have never been a fan of starters as I sometimes tend to take more and get full before having the main meal.

This time round, I took it because I really needed the soup for warmth, thanks to the area’s cold weather.  

Joseph has been a chef at Kiambethu for more than 25 years and understands the menu at his fingertips.

It always amazes me finding staff who have been at an establishment for so long, doing the same thing with a smile on their face.

Joseph lets me know that it’s the environment, as well as his passion for cooking that has made him enjoy serving guests at the farm for two and a half decades. 

He leads me to the dining room where a buffet was waiting. I served chicken, beef, butternut squash, rice, potato and leeks.

Butternut squash looks like pumpkin on the inside, only that it’s firmer when cooked and contains more Vitamin A, C and is a great source of Vitamin E and potassium.

It has higher calories too and complex carbs has more than twice the amount of dietary fiber.

Butternut squash can go well with pork, chicken, turkey, ham or even ribs. It can be toasted, roasted, baked, grilled, sautéed and steamed.

Its seeds are also valuable and can be roasted, salted and consumed as a snack just like pumpkin. 

I loved it’s sweet, moist and nutty taste, which was a bit like that of a sweet potato and it made the chicken tastier. 

We also had some beetroot carrot, some tomatoes and vinaigrette sauce, which gave it a punchy flavour. For desert, there was a wide array of cheese set on the cheese tray and crackers.

There was also fruits, lemon mousse and homemade ice cream of different flavours, such as chocolate and vanilla. I am an ice cream lover and despite the cold, I went for it. 

I later learnt that most of the food came from the farm’s garden and desserts, which are topped with cream, come from the herd of jersey cows on the farm.

After the meals, one can head over to buy some of the tea as they conclude their visit. 

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