Kazakhs are among the world’s top 10 tea drinking peoples but grow very little of their own, preferring India’s Assam and black teas from Kenya and Sri Lanka and brick tea from China. Neighboring Russia and surrounding Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are the world’s largest importers of tea but economic decline in recent years has led to a sharp fall-off in tea imports.
Federation imports declined by 10,000 metric tons during the first six months of the year while Kazakhstan imported 17,200 tons of tea, worth $62.8 million according to the Astana Times.
Filling the gap is worthy of note since the region’s primary suppliers, Sri Lanka and India, are eagerly pursuing increased trade. Kazakhs are not only buying more tea, they are paying for quality. The price paid for tea rose 15 percent last year to an average $8.53 per kilo.
According to the newspaper, “Kostanai city in northern Kazakhstan saw a 27-percent increase in a year despite the country’s highest price ($9.71 per kilo). In Almaty, tea lovers spent the same amount, although prices rose only 0.6 percent, while Astana witnessed a 17.8-percent increase at an estimated $9.12 per kilogram.”
Kazakhs drink an average 1.6 kilos (3.5 pounds) per year.
Domestically grown tea accounts for 30 percent of consumption. The nation produced 10,080 metric tons through June, an increase over 2016 but far from sufficient to blend the popular fennel and cardamom chai consumed with nearly every meal. The Almaty tea producing region, which supplies 83 percent of the nation’s tea has seen declining volumes in recent years.
Kazakh means “wanderer” and many still live a nomadic life raising horses and other herd animals. The country is large, the ninth largest in the world in fact, but only 16 million live there with Kazakhs making up about 65 percent of the fast-growing population.
Source: Astana Times