I was recently invited to Carmién Tea’s Bergendal Farm in Citrusdal to discover how this celebrated South African tea is produced.
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. Read more on their website.
The road to the Carmién Tea’s Bergendal Farm has to be one of the most spectacular roads I have driven in South Africa. Carmién Tea is located at the foot of the Piekenierskloof Mountain Pass and if you don’t stop at the top of the pass for a photo opportunity, then you are seriously missing out!
I have to just put it out there, but I am not a Rooibos Tea fan. Why? I was forced to drink the tea at after-care when I was in primary school. Even so, I went with an open mind and I also happen to love factories and farms.
I arrived on a warm winters day and was greeted by Lize who gave me a personal guided tour of the Carmién Tea farm.
Rooibos seeds are sown between February to March and the seedlings transplanted a few months later. It takes about 18 months before plants can be harvested for the first time.
The Rooibos crop is harvested once a year during summer and early autumn. The Rooibos is then cut then watered and left to ‘sweat’ or ferment in heaps – process involves oxidation, brought about by enzymes naturally present in the plant. The tea is then sun-dried before being sorted and graded.
We ended off the Farm Tour with a special tea flavour pairing and I was blown away by the flavours. My favourite by far was the Vanilla Mocha and Cookies and Cream.
Carmién Tea is not your standard, boring Rooibos Tea. Their range of flavours are perfect for everyday use or special occasions and apparently you can even cook with them!
So did Carmién Tea change my mind about Rooibos Tea? Yes! I bought their kiddies Sleepy Time tea for my 1 year old, and I must tell you, he loves it.
But here are the things I love MOST about Carmién Tea:
- Nothing is wasted – everything is recycled or reused.
- They really look after their staff. From training their staff and promoting from within, to the onsite creche and education facilities for their children.
- The Rooibos – their blends are really delicious, but the health benefits won me over. Preservative free, low tannins, caffeine free and so much more.
You can book your own farm tour, which I highly recommend for the tea lovers out there!
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