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A Rooibos Tea selection to delight every tea lover! Carmién Tea is a well-known household brand, and most people have a box in their kitchen cupboard. The amber red colour in your cup and honey-like taste of rooibos is formed after the tea has been fermented.

This natural herb is a good source of antioxidants and is naturally caffeine free which makes it a favourite for exporting to countries like Japan, Germany, the Netherlands,

Great Britain and America. “The Covid pandemic initially deterred exports for a large part of 2020, but it gave us the opportunity to see where strong liaisons and market shares have been formed, “says Mientjie Mouton, founder and managing director of Carmién Tea.

The story of Carmién

The story began with the twin sisters, Mientjie and Carmen, who grew up on the rooibos farm, Bergendal.  Carmién Tea originated on the farms Bergendal and Brakfontein, situated on the slopes of the Piekenierskloof mountains in the Citrusdal Valley in the Western Cape.

Good soil cultivates a good product

The impact of global climate change forces producers to constantly change their farming practices. Organic matter is critical to retain moisture in the soil.  Rooibos grows in soil that is low in nutrients, but soil analysis is still vital before rooibos tea can be established.  Carmién farms have been following the minimum tillage method since 2014, although it was already successful within the grain industry at that stage.

The pursuit has always been to make use of more organic fertilisers and to give the customer the assurance of food safety from the plant to the end consumer.  “Atlantic Fertilisers’ organic product range is ideal for tea producers who want to follow these principles,” says Mientjie.

Fresh chicken manure was previously used, but this complicated row application and had the tendency to produce more weeds.  Atlantic Fertilisers’ pelletised chicken manure facilitates calibration and row application which leads to labour savings. The product is banded approximately 20 – 25 cm deep into the soil.

Carmién farms make use of Atlantic Fertilisers’ Eco Rock, an organic certified product enriched with organic phosphate in the form of soft rock phosphate.  Atlantic Fertilisers’ composted chicken manure can be used specifically for organically produced rooibos, because it does not burn the roots.  Jaco Visser from NexusAG in Citrusdal provides these Atlantic Fertiliser products to Carmién Tea.

Adding value in the production process

Rooibos cultivation begins with the planting of the seed during winter months, and the tea can be harvested for the first time a year and a half after planting, usually in April. 

The first crop of newly planted rooibos is called the top-rooibos. Harvesting is done by hand in the traditional way of only using sickles. The harvested rooibos is neatly tied in sheaves and from there it is transported to the carving floor where fermentation and drying take place.

The tea gets sorted and cut by a machine to form lengths between 1.5 and 5 mm. Bruised tea leaves and sticks are then drenched in long sweat heaps on the drying rack where fermentation takes place, whereafter it is spread out to dry on the drying yard.  The fermentation process involves oxidation that is brought about by naturally present enzymes in the plant. The product changes from a green to a deep amber colour and develops its distinctive aroma.

After the fermentation process, the rooibos is spread out in the African sun and air to dry naturally.  The dry rooibos is then picked up by a machine and taken to the pasteurisation plant where it is sifted to separate the dust and non-uniform tea needles and sticks.

Rooibos is sterilised through a steam pasteurisation treatment whereafter it is dried over hot airbeds. All rooibos is steamed-pasteurised to ensure a product of high microbial quality. The dry tea is graded daily.

An extensive process of testing and analysing takes place to establish the origin of the tea, the cut and the density of the tea. The colour is as important as the taste and smell of the tea and is evaluated from the rooibos flavour wheel developed by Stellenbosch University.

It is important for the grading team to rate consistently and to ensure that they provide clients with high quality tea. The product is then packaged in large bags for export or tea bags for the retail market or other clients.

The final product

You will find the four goodness seals, referring to Carmién’s commitment to social empowerment, taste, quality, health and protecting the environment, on all Carmién Tea products. Carmién rooibos is an excellent, balanced tea originating from healthy soil as a wholesome, nutritious product.

Get advice from experts and contact the Atlantic Fertilisers’ technical team for fertilisation recommendations for your unique circumstances. 

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Growing goodness together!