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Watch out wine glasses - your days are numbered!

Story by Deni Archer

Tea popularity rising


Tea is the new coffee. While only a few years ago, there were pretty much only two options when it came to tea, black or rooibos (lucky for us South Africans, elsewhere in the western world the option was only black) we can now find a wide selection from around the globe on any supermarket shelf. And once you start looking, you’ll find an even greater array of teas in speciality stores like O’Ways or Nigiro at Origin. But what about our own national tea treasure? Have we truly explored the potential of rooibos?

Reinventing rooibos

When we visited Citrusdal in February, we had the opportunity to meet the minds behind Carmién Tea – an organic range of rooibos and herbal tea blends. This team of tea-visionaries is taking it upon themselves to reinvent rooibos tea - and for them, the sky is the limit.

After our tour of the rooibos farm and processing plant, Lize and her mother Miéntjies (who co-founded Carmién tea with her sister Carmen) hosted us at their home for a tea and food pairing. Carmién have developed a range of affordable organic rooibos and herbal tea blends – and the thought and care that has gone into the process is clear. “Rooibos has a soft, sweet, natural base perfect for blending with other flavours,” says Miéntjies. She mentions a range of herbs and even cucumber and chilli. “I once met a guy in Germany who said ‘I only drink rooibos with chilli, that’s the best’!”

Pairing tea with food

Now they’re taking it to another level with food and chocolate pairing. Meintjies believes there is a whole new world opening up when it comes to combinations of tea flavours, and food ingredients. “It’s not just about wine with food anymore, and that is of real interest to us”.

For us the experience was unforgettable – the dishes prepared were tastefully paired with rooibos blends including lemon and honey, chamomile, vanilla, hibiscus, chai, whimsical berries and even green rooibos and green honeybush. And it worked. The subtle notes in the tea didn’t overpower the food; rather it gently released the flavours allowing them to be absorbed deeper into the palate. Our favourites included the thai smoked chicken and papaya salad paired with the lemon and honey rooibos, and the fig in rooibos reduction with a blue cheese sauce paired with vanilla rooibos (though we were encouraged to make our own pairing choices too!).

Rooibos trending...

Making rooibos more accessible, and even trendy, is a talent that the Carmién team have claimed for themselves. We left feeling like we’d just discovered some uncharted territory in the food world. And it’s nice to know those pretty little tea cups can now take a proud step onto the dinner table with the main course too. Watch out wine glasses, your days are numbered!

[Don't miss the video clips of the tea pairing along with some interesting conversations with the Carmien Tea team - see next tab]

To read more about Carmién Tea, and how rooibos is processed, click here.


Rooibos flavour wheel and lexicon


Lize Mouton tells us about how Carmien Tea are attempting to reinvent rooibos.

Mientjies (co-founder of Carmien Tea) talks about tea and takes us through a tea and food pairing. Yum!

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