The Tea Research Foundation of Kenya (TRFK), was established in 1980 to replace the former Tea Research Institute of East Africa (TRIEA) with the objects "to promote research and investigate problems related to tea and such other crops and systems of husbandry as are associated with tea throughout Kenya including the productivity (yield), quality and suitability of land in relation to tea planting; and matters ancillary thereto".
Research focuses therefore on development of improved clones, appropriate technologies for improvement of yield (quantity of green tea leaf/made tea per hectare) and quality of tea products.
This is done through development of appropriate practices for tea production including breeding, clonal selection, correct plant nutrition, optimal crop husbandry methods, crop physiological studies, control of major pests and diseases, tea manufacture, marketing and utilization of finished products.
The difference (30 %) of the expenditure is internally generated by the Foundation from its own tea estate, sale of planting material, advisory analytical services, sale of publications and other services.
The Foundation is responsible to the Ministry of Research Technical Training and Technology (MRTT&T) through its Board of Directors whose mandate is to formulate policies and guidelines for the proper and effective operation of the Foundation.
The Board is composed of membership from the parent ministry, Ministry of Agriculture Livestock Development and Marketing, Tea Board of Kenya, Kenya Tea Growers Association, Kenya Tea Development Corporation and prominent tea growers nominated by parent ministry. The Research Director is the Chief Executive as provided for by the Foundation's Memorandum and Articles of Association (1980) and the State Corporations Act (Cap 446).
The Foundation has five technical departments (Botany/Breeding, Crop Environment, Chemistry, Plant Protection, and Field Advisory Services) and an Administration department. Additionally the Foundation has a commercial tea estate of 180 ha., of which about 150 ha. is mature and 30 ha. is young tea. About 10 ha. of land is under fuel wood. The estate is planned for expansion to about 300 ha. in the future. A tea research factory is also planned for establishment in the future.