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How we grade and prepare Rooibos tea

How we grade and prepare Rooibos tea

Carmién Tea’s story started in 1998 on the foothills of the South African Cederberg mountains. 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. Read more about the recent Rooibos GI and PDO certifications here.

The Rooibos plant is called Aspalathus Linearis and is also known as “Red Bush” or African Red tea. Read more about the plant and harvesting processes here.

At Carmién, pride ourselves in the wide variety of Rooibos products that we offer. Watch the video below as we take you through our Rooibos grading process.

For the grading of tea you will need:

  • A 150ml cup
  • 5ml teaspoon
  • Timer
  • Loose Rooibos leaves of tea to be evaluated
  • Boiling water
  • White plate
  • Tasting cup and spoon

First, we evaluate the appearance and colour of the tea sample. We evaluate the tea sample according to certain criteria: sieve grading, density, colour and appearance, taste and cup infusion.

For the tasting, we make a cup of tea by adding 1 heaped teaspoon into our 150 ml cup. The cup is filled with boiling water. It is then allowed to steep for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes of steeping time, we evaluate the cup infusion.

First, we evaluate the cup infusion for the Red Rooibos – it has good clarity and a rich amber cup. Then evaluate the Green Rooibos cup infusion – it also has good clarity and an orange-yellow cup infusion.

Now we evaluate the taste and aroma of the tea. We use a cup and spoon to taste. We smell the tea to evaluate the aroma and then taste the tea to evaluate the flavour. The aroma and taste are evaluated in accordance with the Rooibos Aroma Wheel. You can read more about it here.

The Rooibos Aroma Wheel has positive attributes and negative attributes. The primary positive attributes we look for are floral, woody and sweet. The primary negative attributes we look for are grassy, hay, rotting, mouldy, musty or medicinal.

We offer our Rooibos and Rooibos blends in three different teabags:

  • A pillow teabag
  • A Bioweb pyramid teabag
  • A PLA pyramid teabag

All three options are plastic-free and compostable.

Watch this video as we take you through a hot and cold brew preparation:

To prepare a pot of tea we add 1 teabag per 250ml water. Add boiling water to the teapot. Allow steeping for a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes. The optimal drinking temperature is 60C. For a stronger pot, you can even add more teabags or allow it to steep longer.

For our different herbal infusions, we use either Green Rooibos tea or Rooibos tea as a base. You can see from the cup infusion that the green rooibos base has a light yellow-orange infusion while the Rooibos has a deep amber cup infusion.

To prepare a cup, you simply add your tea to a cup, milk if preferred and sugar or honey to taste.

For our Cold Brew range, simply add 1 teabag to 250ml cold water. Allow steeping for 10 to 30 minutes. Add some ice if preferred and enjoy!