The Story of our Rooibos Tea and a VW Camper Van
Every company has an origin story, of how it all began. Our story involves getting lost, a cup of Rooibos tea and a VW camper van (the same one in the picture!)
About 18 years ago, out for an afternoon jaunt through the countryside of South Africa in our vintage VW camper van, we got lost and stopped to ask directions. Fate had placed us at the doorstep of the most highly respected Rooibos tea farmers in the region (although we didn’t know that yet!).
We were organic farmers in Canada and were delighted to stumble upon an organic farm. Directions turned into an offer of tea and being treated to the best cup of tea ever! We found out that the farmers, Frans and Gerda, used special techniques that ensured their Rooibos was of the highest quality. They harvested by hand, fermented in small batches, and then sun dried it. And they’d been doing it this way for the last 50 years!
It didn’t take long for an idea to hatch. What if we tried to sell this incredible tea back home? We offered to import their tea to Canada and they happily accepted. On one condition: They wanted to trade a ton of their tea for our VW camper van (that unbeknownst to us, Frans and Gerda had fallen in love with!).
To this day, we are still importing our Rooibos tea (both red and green) from the same farmers and they still own the camper van! In addition, we have found an incredible Honeybush tea farmer in South Africa. It is important to us to visit the farms, build relationships with the farmers and strive to understand the harvesting, processing and drying operations. We know where our products come from and want to share those stories. Our vision – From Farmer to Family for Love of the Earth is our lived truth and we love what we do!
Rooibos, meaning “red bush” in Afrikaans grows exclusively in South Africa, in the Cederberg Mountains, in the sandy and well-drained soil of a biodiversity hot spot known as the Fynbos Biome. It is made from the needle-like leaves and thin stems of a naturally occurring shrub in the legume family called Aspalathus linearis, that has been used since time immemorial by the KhoiSan people of the region.
The tea is made by cutting and bruising the leaves and stems of the plant, fermenting them in rows overnight then leaving them to dry in the sun – a process which turns the leaves from green to their characteristic red colour.
Rooibos is an herbal tea with no stimulating effect, that tastes similar to black tea but with no tannin or bitterness. It can be consumed with milk and sweetener, so makes a good substitute for those wanting to ‘get off’ caffeine but still enjoy a proper cuppa. Rooibos contains numerous antioxidants and is loaded with minerals including iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese and zinc as well as the skin promoting alpha hydroxyl acid.
Green at night, red by Morning!
What is the difference between Red and Green Rooibos?
All Rooibos is green to start! Green rooibos is immediately dried after harvesting, preserving its lighter colour resulting in a lighter, more astringent, and slightly citrusy tea.
Red Rooibos on the other hand, is fermented in a row overnight, which turns the green leaves to a red-brown colour (see images). It is then dried in the hot South African sun, at the hottest time of the year, resulting in an incredibly smooth, rich, naturally sweet tea with an earthy undertone sometimes described as nutty or woody.
Rooibos Tea packaging in our facility in Campbell River
What is the difference between Honeybush Tea and Rooibos Tea?
Honeybush also grows solely in South Africa but is harvested in the Kouga Mountains, north of the Cape of Good Hope. Like Rooibos, Honeybush is a naturally occurring fynbos known as Cyclopia Intermedia, meaning Mountain Tea. We exclusively sell wild-crafted Mountain Honeybush, which is the highest quality of all Honeybush on the market today. It’s taste is described as naturally sweet with a honey flavour, floral and lightly roasted. Both teas are naturally caffeine-free, high in antioxidants and minerals. So don’t hesitate to drink up to 6 cups a day!
Chai Tea Lover?
We created our own Chai Rooibos tea blend, which we hand blend in small batches, right here in our facility on Vancouver Island. We use only the best certified organic spices and our high-quality Rooibos to create what many folks say is the ‘best Chai they’ve ever tried’. Spicy, warming, immune boosting with an edge of natural sweetness, our caffeine free Chai Rooibos can be consumed any time of the day or night! It’s especially great to aid digestion after a big evening meal. Enjoy!
See all of our South African teas!