The 88th Annual Tea Trade Dinner in London

This year’s Tea Trade Dinner counted 380 attendants seated on 34 tables, each hosted by one or several of the world’s big tea companies and groups. This unique and prestigious event, which takes place every year on the first Thursday of May at the Savoy Hotel on the Strand, in London is the one social gathering where virtually all the big deciders of the global tea world meet. Every year a Tea Trade Dinner Chairman is appointed and will address the gathering with a topical talk.

Even after 88 years of existence there are still firsts, and such was the case, when the Tea Trade Dinner Committee requested Lerionka S.Tampati to be the Chairman on May 4th 2017. Managing Director and CEO of the Kenya Tea Development Agency, KTDA, since 2004 he is the first African to have been invited for this function.

This really means a tremendous recognition by his peers, comments Barry Cooper, VP of the US Tea Association, and who was raised in Kenya and continues to be in love with this country. Kenyan tea supply is absolutely key for the world market, and honouring the country’s significant contribution to the market appears very timely he says.

The past TTD Chairman Philip Miles, past MD , Van Rees BV, then outlined the current Chairman’s background, career and merits by recalling Lerionka Samuel Tiampati’s education at the University of Nairobi, continued in Cranfield, UK and finalized with  a diploma of the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK.

After holding various positions as marketing and development officer in agri business companies, Tiampati moved on to tea. Here his real career began as MD of The Kenyan Tea Packers, KETEPA, from 2001 to 2004, and then from late 2004 onwards, as CEO of the Kenya Tea Development Agency. This appointment has made him accept one of the heaviest and most difficult responsibilities in the tea world, as he is in charge of 67 factories, more than 560,000 tea small holders and more than 12,000 factory staff, thus providing indirect employment to over 6 million Kenyans. With an output of 264,000 metric tonnes of tea in 2016 the KTDA is indeed the world’s biggest single tea producer, a very big job to run with constant challenges and a heavy burden of every day responsibilities to face.

With his strict upbringing and a family background of civil service he strongly defends the interest of the KTDA tea smallholders, and his abhorrence of corruption and favouritism is highly appreciated.

In order to recognize his efforts for improvements in production and increasing exports Tiampati was honoured with the “Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear” -MBS, which was awarded to him in 2012 by the Kenyan President.

A Masai by birth, who have a reputation for bravery and honour, Tiampati was also a very competitive athlete as a field hockey player and champion runner. Today he only has time for occasional golf and enjoys the few restful moments he can get outdoors in the country side, close to fields and livestock. He is a teetotaller, which fits well with the constant promotion of the healthy cups which are brewed from Kenyan tea.

A lively applause acclaiming the speech by the first African TTD Chairman confirmed the approval by the tea world’s major deciders of the KTDA as a main player and the full support given to it’s CEO, in order to continue his constructive strategy towards a vibrant future.