Carmién Organic Rooibos Tea
If you’re from South Africa, chances are you’re had many a cup of delicious and nutritious rooibos tea. But have you ever wondered about the process of getting the tea from bush to cup? In fact, have you any idea what a rooibos bush even looks like?
Where you can find it
Pick n Pay
Selected Wellness warehouse outlets
Selected Dischem outlets
Direct from the farm : www.carmientea.co.za
Website www.carmientea.co.za Phone +27 (0)22 921 3405 / 7 Mobile 082 803 4393 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
[Story by Carlin Archer]
The Story of Rooibos Tea
If you’re from South Africa, chances are you’ve had many a cup of delicious and nutritious rooibos tea. But have you ever wondered about the process of getting the tea from bush to cup? In fact, have you any idea what a rooibos bush even looks like?
During our stay in the Citrusdal area we were invited by Lize and Mientjies from Carmién Tea to visit their rooibos farm and processing plant. Danie Brink, our very knowledgeable guide for the day, informed us that although there have been attempts to cultivate rooibos in other parts of the world, the Cederberg region of the Western Cape is the only place in the world rooibos grows successfully. The broom-like bush is an herb rather than a true tea, and is member of the legume family.
Clean tea for good health
Carmién's certified organic rooibos farm covers around 400 hectares. As we walked through the fields, it was a comfort to know that no nasty chemicals were pervading the air around us – it helps that this is the rooibos plant’s natural environment making it more resistant to pests. A third of the bush is harvested for processing while the other two thirds are left to grow back – which it does swiftly in the summer after the winter rains. In the springtime the rooibos blossoms paint the fields a sunny yellow.
Our tour began out in a brushy green field of rooibos; one half of the field had been harvested and the other half was yet to be cut. Surprisingly, the freshly cut bush smells nothing like the distinct aroma that we’ve come to expect from a cup of rooibos tea, giving off a herby fragrance instead. Danie explained that it isn’t until after the fermentation process that you start to get the familiar rooibos tea smell.
From green to red – the fermentation process
In the afternoon the harvested rooibos is prepared for fermentation - chopped up, mixed with water and piled into mounds. Natural enzymatic actions causes fermentation to occur and the temperature of the piles can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius! By the next morning the rooibos will have taken on the characteristic deep amber colour and trade mark smell; when you dig into the wet warm heap you’ll get a sweet whiff of caramel and honey. The rooibos is then spread out to dry in the extreme summer heat, after which it is sifted and sorted into the various grades. An impressive array of machinery is used in the various steps of the sifting process, each tuned for sorting a different size leaf. But the bits that don’t make it into drinking grade tea aren’t wasted – they’re used to make nutrient rich rooibos mulch.
The tea is then graded for quality – this requires highly skilled tasters who rate the teas in terms of aroma, flavour and aesthetics. “Different soils produce different teas – as a farmer you must know your fields and then blend the produce for the best flavour,” says Danie. As for production quantities, for every 20 tonnes of wet rooibos, 6.5 tonnes of useable leaves result.
Changing the face of rooibos
At this point the rooibos can finally be made into the various Carmién Rooibos products, ready for delivery to the shops. Carmién are focused on changing the face of rooibos, creating beautiful blends with other herbal teas, and even encouraging people to experiment with the flavours by pairing them with foods. (See our story on the tea and food pairing we did with Lize and Miéntjies) “Our whole concept behind Carmién Tea is to bring tea direct from the farm, organic, to the household, and to brng organic tea to a broader base – not this niche product that the man on the street can’t tap into,” co-founder Miéntjies says.
Note: Carmien tea is certified organic by EcoCert, JAS, UTZ, USDA. The farm we visited also has a 50% shareholding by farmworkers.
Read all about our tea and food pairing with Carmién Tea - click here.
Farm workers harvesting rooibos at Berg en Dal - a Carmien Tea farm that is fairtrade certified. The workers own a 50% share of the farm.
Rooibos is initially green, but once fermented turns to an amber red, with the distinctive smell familiar to a cup of rooibos tea.
From 20 tonnes of raw produce, 6.5 tonnes of dry rooibos goes to market.
From bush to bag - how rooibos tea is processed
Rooibos tea and food pairing with Carmien Tea
Read the accompanying story - click here.
Carmien Tea are reinventing rooibos. Here's what Lize Mouton has to say.
Carmién Tea’s head office is situated on the historic Brakfontein Estate near the small town of Citrusdal. Located on the foothills of the Western Cape’s splendid Cedarberg Mountains, the farm falls within the Greater Cedarberg Biodiversity Corridor and is a 2 hour drive from Cape Town.
The narrow 60 000 hectare belt along the West Coast of South Africa is the only place in the world where Rooibos tea can be grown. This area is also one of the world’s six Plant Kingdoms. The typical Mediterranean climate, ideal temperatures, rainfall and sunshine, offers the natural terroir needed for Rooibos to be cultivated in harmony with nature. The sandy slopes and undulating valleys of the rugged Cedarberg Mountain Range provide the perfect habitat for Rooibos.
Since the deregulation of the Rooibos industry in 1993, Carmién Tea has established itself as the second largest producer and supplier of quality packaged retail Rooibos tea products in South Africa. The company is also a successful bulk tea exporter and private label packer to many countries around the globe. Carmién Tea secures the best quality organic Rooibos from prime growing areas such as Piekenierskloof, Nieuwoudville, Wupperthal and Gifberg.
The Carmién Rooibos range is available in organic (bio) and/or regular (conventional) products and is produced on Fairtrade principles. Carmién Tea is offering superior quality products at competitive prices, direct from the farm, to their customers whilst ensuring total food traceability in the food chain.
“We pride ourselves on what we have achieved since we were allowed to produce, process and market our products on an independent basis outside the single channel Rooibos marketing board that monopolised the South African Rooibos industry until 1993”, said Mientjie Mouton, the managing director of Carmién Tea. “We offer quality products, the company is customer and market driven, we invest in our people and support the local community to ensure production stability and a rewarding future for all involved … for generations to come.”
Since 2001, Carmién Tea is also a vehicle of empowerment aiming to provide sustainable jobs and broad based wealth creation for their farm workers as an independent marketing company. Strategic partnerships with like minded commercial and Fairtrade producers, e.g. Bergendal Farming Operations, led to the foundation of Bergendal Rooibos, a Rooibos processing plant and joint venture between Bergendal farm workers, Bergendal Farming Operations and Carmién Tea.
Carmién Tea actively supports community development on shareholder’s farms. The company furthermore is committed to women- and childcare in the broader community through its partnership with Ubuntu Citrusdal.
You can find Carmién Tea products at the following outlets:
- Pick n Pay
- Selected Wellness warehouse outlets
- Selected Dischem outlets
- Direct from the farm : www.carmientea.co.za
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