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Summer Christmas

By Carmen Niehaus

It’s summer time in South Africa and the best way to celebrate Christmas is with a cold summer spread. Lay the table outside on the stoep in shades of natural green and blue on white and prepare nostalgic dishes which recall old memories but add an interesting twist to it. Enjoy a feast of food, wine and rooibos tea, bursting with colour and flavour.


Fynbos farm-style buns with cheese Christmas trees

Ginger gammon with watermelon and melon in ginger syrup

Copper penny carrot salad
Slaphakskeentjies (onions in mustard sauce)
Broccoli and tomato salad with citrus dressing
Strawberry and beetroot salad with forest berry buchu dressing

Black forest trifle cake



Piekenierskloof Heirloom White
Piekenierskloof Cinsault
Piekenierskloof Chenin Blanc
Piekenierskloof Pinotage (with cake)


Carmién Floral Berry
Carmién Tropical Burst
Carmién Orange Camomile
Carmién Turkish Delight (with cake)

Credit: Elmarie van den Berg of Soutbos for the Christmas wreaths and Mervyn Gers for the dinnerware.


A Christmas feast combines beautiful food and drinks that will complement the food and enhance all the flavours. In our family, we not only serve wine but also place pots with different types of rooibos tea on the table which then serve as a palate cleanser and help to keep you hydrated. It’s also ideal for those who prefer non-alcoholic drinks to sip on. But the best of it all is that the tea brings out the flavour of both the food and the wine.


Always have 3 different Carmién rooibos teas ready for the table. Make it beforehand and let it cool till about 60°C, do not serve piping hot. Place the pots on a burner to keep them warm and serve without sugar or milk. My selection of Carmién teas to go with the summer feast is as follows:

  • A good all-rounder that is a must on any table is the Carmién Orange Camomile. The base of this tea is a green rooibos and the hint of fresh orange pairs well with both savoury and sweet dishes.
  • The Carmién Floral Berry with its berry flavours works well with the watermelon and melon as well as the strawberry in the beetroot salad.
  • The Carmién Tropical Burst will also complement the ginger in the gammon and match well with the salads.
  • Carmién’s Turkish Delight is a winner with anything sweet and the rose water profile is a perfect match with the chocolate cake and cherries.

But as said before, there are no rules, the teas mentioned are just recommendations, and experimenting is the keyword here.


A selection of Piekenierskloof wines was carefully selected to complement the food on this summer feast table. (It’s summer time so keep the wine cool, even the red wines.)

  • The fresh Chenin Blanc with tones of summer and tropical fruit is a good match with the ginger in the gammon while the velvety Cinsault with its red fruit notes and hint of savoury black olive pair with the tomato flavours in the copper penny carrot salad and tomato in the broccoli salad.
  • The Heirloom White as well as the Chenin Blanc is a perfect match with all the salads.
  • The rich, full-bodied Piekenierskloof Pinotage with its notes of red fruit and dark chocolate is ideal to match the creamy black forest trifle cake.



These wholewheat bread buns are baked in large muffin cups. Though the buns are made with yeast, it needs no kneading. Cheese triangles dipped in green rooibos tea leaves and pretzels are used to make the tiny Christmas trees that are served with the bread.

Makes 18-24 bread muffins
Preparation: 5–10 min
Baking time: 50-60 min

1 kg whole wholegrain or brown bread flour, preferably stoneground
80 ml (⅓ c) each sesame-, sunflower, pumpkin and linseed
10 ml (2 t) salt
1 packet (10 g) instant yeast
4—5 x 250 ml (4-5 C) lukewarm Carmién Rescue (rooibos tea with buchu) and/or green rooibos tea, made with 1 bag per 250 ml
30 ml (2 T) oil
Extra seeds for sprinkling on top

1 BREAD MIX Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2 Mix the rooibos tea and oil, add to the dry ingredients and mix well. The mixture is slack.
3 Preheat the oven to 190° C. Spray 24 large hollows of 2 muffin pans with cooking spray. Fill the muffin cups to the rim.
Sprinkle some extra seeds on top. Let rise till double in volume.
4 Bake for about 50-60 minutes till a testing skewer comes out clean.
5 Serve the bread buns with the cheese Christmas trees.

Hint: These buns freeze well. You can also use the Airfryer to bake the buns.


1—2 boxes with 8 cheese triangles (I prefer The Laughing Cow)
2 bags Carmién green rooibos tea or Orange Camomile


1 Open the cheese triangles and cut open the tea bags. Pour the tea leaves into a bowl.
2 Roll the cheese triangles in the tea mix.
3 Press a Pretzel into the bottom side of each cheese triangle and then stick it into a bun.


I usually use a variety of Carmién teas to cook this gammon in – Revive with its ginger and chilli notes, Zesty Lemon for a little bit of sourness and Citrus Chai for a mild spicy flavour.

Serves about 6
Preparation: 15 min
Cooking time: about 2 hours depending on the size of the leg

3—3,5 kg gammon (pickled and smoked), deboned
2—3 litres Carmién-rooibos tea, prepared with Revive, Zesty Lemon and Citrus Chai (2 bags each per 500 ml)
1 onion, sliced
Few bay leaves
1 piece of ginger, thinly sliced
80 ml (⅓ c) preserved ginger, finely chopped
45 ml (3 T) ginger syrup

1 Place the gammon in a large pot. Calculate 25 min per each 500 g cooking time. Prepare the rooibos tea and pour over the gammon, enough till it’s covered.
2 Add the onion, bay leaves and ginger pieces to the pot. Bring to a boil, then cook till the gammon is soft and a testing skewer easily pulls out of the meat when you press it in.
3 Remove the gammon from the liquid and leave to cool. Remove the rind and cut diamond patterns on the fatty side.
4 Preheat the oven to 180°C.
5 Mix the ginger pieces and syrup and spoon over the fatty side. Place in the oven and oven-roast for 40—45 minutes till the fat is crisp and brown.
6 Serve warm or cold with watermelon and melon.


Green rooibos with its refreshing flavour works well with watermelon and melon. Red rooibos is just a little bit too heavy and spicy.

750 ml (3 c) Carmién rooibos tea, made with 4 bags each of Revive and Orange Camomile and 1 Zesty Lemon bag
300 g sugar
Berry-infused balsamic vinegar to taste

Third of a watermelon, thinly sliced in 1 cm- slices
Half a melon, sliced into 1 cm slices
A few sprigs of fresh mint

1 Infuse the tea bags in boiling water for about 5 minutes till strong. Remove the tea bags and pour the tea into a pot.
2 Add the sugar, stir till dissolved, bring to a boil and cook till a light syrup is formed about 10 minutes. Add vinegar to taste and let cool.
3 Press stars from the pieces of fruit and place in a bowl, add the cooled syrup about 1—2 hours before serving time and cool till icy cold. Serve with the gammon and decorate with the mint.


A trip down memory lane with copper penny carrot salad and slaphakskeentjies (onions in mustard sauce). You can prepare these salads beforehand and bottle them. These are not so sweet.


I like the hint of rooibos and buchu in the tomato sauce in which the carrots are cooked.

Makes about 1 litre (4 c)
Preparation time: 20 min
Cooking time: 15—20 min

180 ml (¾ c) sugar
250 ml (1 c) apple cider vinegar or sushi rice vinegar
125 ml (½ c) Carmién Recue rooibos tea (rooibos and buchu), made with 2 bags
2 x 50 g tomato paste
10 ml (2 t) Worcestershire sauce
15 ml (1 T) prepared mustard
5 ml (1 t) paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
20 ml (4 t) cornflour
1 kg carrots, scraped and sliced into thin slices
1 large onion, sliced
2 red, yellow or green sweet peppers, cubed

1 SAUCE Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a large saucepan en bring to the boil while stirring.
2 SALAD Place carrots in a pot, pour over some boiling water and bring to the boil. Drain.
3 Fry the onion and sweet peppers in a little oil till soft, add to the carrots.
4 Pour over the sauce and bring to the boil.
5 Spoon into sterilized jars and seal.


For this salad, I boil the onions in green rooibos tea leaves. It’s not necessary to peel the onions beforehand.

Makes about 750 ml (3 c)
Preparation time: 30 min
Cooking time: 30 min

1 kg pickling onions
45 ml (3 T) Carmién green tea
Boiling water
125 ml (½ c) apple cider vinegar
125 ml (½ c) sushi rice vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
125—160 ml (½-⅓ c) sugar
4 eggs
25 ml (5 t) mustard powder
Pinch of salt

1 ONIONS Place the onions in a large pot, sprinkle over the stokkies tea and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil and cook till soft.
2 Drain, rinse under cold water, let cool a bit then peel off the skins.
2 SAUCE Place the vinegar, and/or lemon juice and sugar in a stainless steel pot and cook till the sugar has dissolved.
3 Beat the eggs, mustard powder and salt. Add some of the vinegar mixture and beat well.
4 Add the egg mixture to the rest of the vinegar mixture in the pot and cook over low heat while stirring till the sauce thickens.
5 Add the onions and spoon in sterilized jars. Seal.
6 Keep in the refrigerator after opening.


I love making salad dressings with rooibos tea. By using rooibos, one can bring down the oil content quite a bit. They are also loaded with lots of goodness and antioxidants. The wide variety of Carmién teas with their interesting flavour combinations help you to create a new flavour profile for your salad dressing just by changing the type of tea.


Serves 6
Preparation time: 15 min

125 ml (½ c) Carmién Orange Camomile rooibos tea, made with 3 tea bags
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
30 ml (2 T) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
15 ml (1 T) wholegrain mustard
5 ml (1 t) Dijon mustard
15 ml (1 T) honey
45 ml (3 T) freshly chopped parsley, coriander leaves and mint
Salt and pepper to taste
1 head of broccoli, broken into smaller florets
125 g baby tomatoes
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Rocket leaves and coriander leaves for sprinkling on top

1 SALAD DRESSING Mix all the ingredients.
2 SALAD Plathe broccoli in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then drain. Pour over the salad dressing and let cool.
3 Add the baby tomatoes and onions and mix.
4 Spoon into a salad bowl or deep cake stand and garnish with leaves.


It’s very convenient to use vacuum-packed precooked beetroot for this salad. Carmién’s Energize rooibos tea contains some forest berries and buchu which pair perfectly with the beetroot and strawberries. It also adds subtle tones of fynbos to the salad.

Serves 6
Preparation time: 15 min

4 bags Carmién Energize (rooibos with forest berries and buchu)
250 ml (1 c) boiling water
15 ml (1 T) sugar
30 ml (2 T) oil
30 ml (2 T) apple vinegar
7,5 ml (1½ t) Japanese soy sauce
2,5 ml (½ t) fine salt
2 bags (500 g each) vacuum packed precooked beetroot
125 g strawberries, halved
1 red onion, sliced
Sprinkling pickled green peppercorns
125 g feta cheese with black pepper
Watercress for sprinkling on top

1 SALAD DRESSING Place the tea bags in a measuring cup and add the boiling water. Let cool, then remove the tea bags. Add the rest of the ingredients for the salad dressing and beat well.
2 SALAD Arrange all the salad ingredients in a salad bowl or deep cake stand and pour over the salad dressing. Refrigerate till needed.


I am mad about a trifle and when I discovered the black forest version with chocolate cake and caramel condensed milk I was hooked. Here is my way of making a healthier, but very tasty black forest trifle by adding the goodness of rooibos, replacing the condensed milk with a yummy caramel rooibos custard and cutting down on sugar and fat. A masterpiece and star of the table.

Serves 6—8
Preparation time: 20 min
Baking time: about 40 min

500 ml (2 c) cake flour
125 ml (½ c) cacao
10 ml (2 t) bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
250 ml (1 c) oats
250 ml (1 c) sugar
160 ml (⅔ c) canola oil
30 ml (2 T) apple vinegar
500 ml (2 c) Carmién Cookies & Cream rooibos tea, made with 4 bags
500 ml (2 c) milk
4—6 Carmién Caramel teabags
Pinch of salt
60—80 ml (¼-⅓ c) sugar
40 g custard powder
10 ml (2 t) gelatine
250 ml (1 k) chilled cream, stiffly beaten with some castor sugar
125 g strawberries, sliced
250 g fresh cherries
Sprigs of mint

Preheat the oven to 180°C. You can also use an Airfryer, set on bake at 180°C.

1 CAKE Mix the cake flour, cacao, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add the oats and sugar and mix well.
2 Pour the oil, vinegar and rooibos tea into a large jug and beat well.
3 Add the tea mixture to the dry ingredients and beat well.
4 Spray a silicone Bundt pan well with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan and bake in the preheated oven (or Airfryer) for about 40—45 min or until a testing skewer comes out clean from the middle of the cake.
5 If baked in the AirFryer, cover the cake halfway through the baking time with tinfoil to prevent the cake from burning on top.
6 Let cool in the pan, then refrigerate till properly cold.
7 Halve the cake horizontally. Arrange on a cake stand.
8 CUSTARD Heat the milk with the tea bags till just below boiling point. Remove the tea bags, add the sugar to the milk and bring to a boil.
9 Mix the custard powder with a little bit of water to make a paste, add some heated milk, stir well and add to the rest of the milk. Stir well and bring to the boil till the mixture thickens.
10 Spunge the gelatine in a little bit of water, and microwave for 10 seconds in the microwave oven until the gelatine has melted, do not allow the gelatine to boil.
11 Stir in some of the custard, then add to the rest of the custard. Mix well and let cool till the mixture is set.
12 TO FINISH Add half of the cream to the custard mixture and beat well with an electric beater till smooth.
13 Smear three-quarters of the custard mixture on the bottom part of the cake. Arrange the strawberries on top and place the top layer of the cake on top.
14 Pipe the leftover custard mixture blobs on top and decorate with the cherries.
15 Garnish with sprigs of mint. Serve with Piekenierskloof Pinotage and Carmién Turkish Delight.