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News from the farm

When does gratitude supersede expectation?

When we still have a harvest, albeit 30% less than expectation.
When we still have water, albeit less than we require.
When we can still fill our orders , even if it is on our knees most of the time.

And, when we know that what goes down, must come up again, that summer always precedes winter, and that drought will eventually be relieved by rain. And we are grateful. Grateful also for those who fight the battle with us and give their all so that eventually we can all get through this.

Hand harvesting with sickle.

Its harvest time.
5 am. Before the sun has lifted its head behind the Cederberg mountains, sickles are rhythmically cutting handfuls of rooibos. 50 men a field. Each bundle carefully laid on a small sail until it is full. Two hooks join the cuttings into a sheaf that can stand on its own.

Weighing in. Each sheaf meticulously documented.

Each sheaf weighs in at between 18-25 kgs, is carefully documented, and soon, like an army of watchmen waiting to see if their buddies are going to make it, an area of stacked sheaves gets cleared and loaded onto a waiting truck. The cutters take a welcome break and then it is back to the sickle and sheaf as the morning cool makes way for blazing hot days.

To reach minimum wage, 350 kgs has to be cut per worker per day. Some way exceed that with averages between 550-650 kgs per day so there is great reward in the hard work.

6 am. Higher up in the valley at Bergendal Rooibos, long rows of cut, fermenting tea have been building up steamy temperatures of up to 42 degrees Celsius overnight. As the covering sails are lifted and the tea is given one more turning over, a thick mist rises up, obscuring your view, and that familiar sweet rooibos smell permeates the air. It is a beautiful experience. What landed on the court yesterday as green tea, has now miraculously turned red. The wonder of rooibos.

Early morning rows of fermenting tea.

State of the art machines suck up the tea and two rotating arms scatter it thinly over the tea court for a few hours of drying in the hot sun. Each batch carefully documented and monitored to ensure full traceability. Once again it is gathered up into 400 kg bags and now batch after batch goes through a sifting process, separating dust from tea leaves and shaking out mulch at the end. Cut lengths are monitored, batches are sifted and blended according to each client’s requirements and then sent through a pasteurizer and finally hot air drying before being bagged, weighed and shrink-wrapped per palette, ready to be shipped or moved next door to the packing facility.

Behind the scenes, temperatures are checked, batch after batch is tasted, noted, quality checks carried out and finally certification approval before one gram of tea can leave the factory.

Sheaves being separated and fed into a cutting machine.

In the meantime truck after truck arrives with freshly cut sheaves. It is weighed, offloaded, each sheaf opened, separated, and fed though a cutting machine which cuts even lengths of between 1-5 mm. The bruised green cuttings are fed via conveyer belt into a wagon from where it will be dumped in long low rows to ferment overnight and so the process repeats itself.
Day after day.

Its always worth it. We love what we do.

News from the farm

The severe drought situation in the Western Cape had tea farmers very concerned during the planting  season but the miracle of Rooibos tea way exceeds its health benefits. The rooibos plant is also unbelievably hardy!

The little plant is under stress before it even gets planted. Apart from long travelling distances to the farm, they literally lie in a huge heap for a day or two before they get planted. This season they were planted in soil that was certainly not as well drenched as it should be. Not only did the small plants have to get by with continued insufficient rainfall to successfully settle, but they had to face the damaging force of the Sept/Oct south east winds.

At Carmién Tea we practice preservation farming which means we do not plough our fields, so where some farmers had fields almost obliterated by the Sept/Oct south east winds, we had almost no ground movement. We are more than delighted to report that the majority of our plants are also doing well despite this being the lowest rainfall year in the history (1932) of the farm.

There are still many factors that can influence the young plants until their first cropping in March/April. Our more mature plants are flowering excessively at the moment due to the dry conditions. This means the plant may drop its leaves and without sufficient water the resultant poor growth recovery could lead to inferior quality tea so this quarter is crucial for both young and older plants.

It is interesting to note that, despite the possible negative effects (we are trusting for rain), this is actually nature’s way of preserving plant propagation. It flowers in excess so that more seeds can be produced to ensure future survival.

Carmien rooibos loose leaf tea

Summertime is holiday time

Summertime is holiday time. Treat yourself to our delicious festive summer drinks! Start with tea and end with champagne!

Summer holiday loose leaf tea is a combination of green Rooibos and green Honeybush with a mix of forest berries, mint and watermelon giving it a lovely aroma. Apart from being naturally sweet it is super high in antioxidants and Vitamin C.

Don’t miss the hint of rose petals and beautiful pink cup infusion. An ideal tea blend for making ice teas, cocktails and ice lollies during your festive holidays.

We show you how easy and delicious it is in this Summer holiday loose leaf tea video!

Buy your SUMMER HOLIDAY LOOSE LEAF TEA today:

Heritage Day – A Rainbow Nation Braai

Heritage day has become a day of shared cultures celebrating the one thing that binds us all together in unity. The great South African braai tradition. Of course, all braai converts firmly believe the braai originated here at the southern tip of Africa but actually the word ‘braai’ (to grill) seems to have evolved from the Dutch word ‘ braden’ (to roast) but despite its uncertain origin it has become the proud property of our rainbow nation. We like to braai!

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who in 2007 was made the National Spokesperson for “Braai Day”, spoke about us all gathering around one fire…” Irrespective of your politics, of your culture, of your race , of your whatever, hierdie ding doen ons saam (this thing we do together)… just South Africans doing one thing together, and recognising that we are a fantastic nation.”

As much as one may think it is a predominantly white tradition, braaing also has strong African roots and is known as Chisa  Njama in Zulu. The first word Chisa literally means ‘ to burn’ and Njama means ‘meat’. The word describes both the action of braaiing, eating braaied meat and attending a braai! A braai restaurant like Mzolis in Gugulethu is also known as a Chisa Njama.

Of course we cannot let you braai on this Heritage day celebration without introducing you to yet another Carmién Tea experience. A rainbow nation braai. Complete with recipes and easy to follow videos, so go on, impress your guests! We won’t let your secret out!

Any festive gathering calls for some good (sometimes very debatable) conversation and something to drink. Our suggestion is sure to be a hit at your braai! Pink and very very trendy. Gin infused with Rooibos and topped with your favourite pink mixer. Our apologies to those who are still stuck on Brandy and Coke but drinks are moving on and becoming a fashion all by themselves. Drop the gin if you prefer a refreshing non alcoholic drink laced with delicious Carmién Restore.

ROOIBOS GIN & TONIC

Video: Rooibos Gin

Any  Boerebraai starts with good meat and amongst the Afrikaans speaking, boerewors and lamb chops are high on the list, as is the popular sosatie. A sosatie is supposedly not a sosatie unless it is made with a combination of lamb and pork, apricots and a curry marinade. Anything else is dismissed as a kebab. We have a tried and tested original version for you here.

MINI-SOSATIES

Video: Marinade

Braaied chicken is a firm favourite in African households, especially served with krummelpap. A carb side dish usually include either krummelpap, braaibroodjies or roosterkoek. Add our super easy no-cook braai sauce to your braaipap and chicken and you’ll have everyone sneaking into the kitchen for the leftovers!

BRAAIED CHICKEN WITH PAP

Video: No-cook Braai Sauce

Once the meat and carbs are selected every family usually have their own salad favourites but we have added a deliciously tasty twist to our Carmién coleslaw with a creamy masala dressing. Indian and Malay food are known for their fiery but flavoursome curries toned down by a cooling sambal. Our coleslaw with a touch of cumin and coriander can be seen as a type of sambal served in small portions or as a proper salad.

COLESLAW WITH CREAMY MASALA DRESSING

Video: Masala Dressing

Last but never least, we bring our Heritage day rainbow braai to a perfect finish with traditional malva pudding that is served from campfire to statehouse and enjoyed by all. As always, we at Carmién Tea, take the healthy angle and this malva pudding is not as rich and sweet, but definitely twice as nice as the original with Carmién creamy Vanilla and Rooibos Tea adding richness and flavour.

Add to that a little extra indulgence that needs no cultural introduction anywhere. An easy creamy ice cream that will definitely suit our Banting fans too and ensure you enjoy that well deserved afternoon nap after all this “work”! Then gather all the delicious left overs and dish out some of that neighbourly hospitality that we as South Africans are known for.

MALVA PUDDING

Video: Malva Syrup

EASY HOME-MADE ICE CREAM

Video: Easy Home-Made Ice Cream

 

Caring For Your Cast Iron Teapot

Cast Iron Teapot Care Instructions:

Proper care of your cast iron teapot will ensure a lifetime of good use.

Before use:

  • Fill with boiling water to rinse and warm your pot.
  • Please note: your cast iron teapot is not suitable for stove top use.

 

After use:

  • Allow teapot to cool completely after each use before cleaning.
  • Do not use soaps or detergents.
  • Avoid contact with salt and oils.
  • Do NOT put in dishwasher.
  • Do not leave water or tea in pot for extended period of time.
  • Rinse and clean thoroughly with warm water only.
  • Wipe the inside and outside dry with a clean cloth while the pot is still warm.
  • Invert the pot to air dry before replacing infuser and lid.
  • Clean infuser with or without soapy water.

 

  • Due to the iron content of the teapot, we recommend the use of a trivet/ pot stand to
    protect table linens and surfaces.
  • In the unlikely event of rust, the pot can still be used. Rust from the teapot is non-toxic and
    perfectly safe. In fact, many tea connoisseurs actually prefer the taste of tea from a rusted
    iron teapot! If the rust bothers you, clean the rusted area with a soft brush, then fill the pot
    with used tea leaves and boiling water. Allow to sit for 20 minutes, discard and rinse.
    Tannic acid in the tea reacts with the rust and forms a natural seal, helping to prevent the
    re-occurrence of rust.
  • Cast iron teapots remain popular because they are made of specially purified cast iron
    which makes them extremely durable and lasting. They are also excellent at retaining heat
    and have taken on a much more fashionable look which makes them very presentable at
    your tea table.

Buy your Cast Iron Teapot now.

Loose Leaf Tea Blending

You enjoy your tea as pure and untouched as possible. In fact, drinking tea is more than just a ritual to you. It’s an art. An art of fusion and flavours, steeped to perfection.

You like perfection from the tea leaf to the tea cup. A glass pot so you can see when the brew is perfect. A burner because you know tea is best at just the right temperature (65 degrees of course) and the second cup is even better than the first. The cup is more than just a cup, it’s part of the taste experience, double walled yet light, perfectly rounded .

At Carmién Tea you can now also customize your favourite cup of Rooibos loose leaf tea. Create your own unique signature blend. What’s more, it becomes a lovely gift next time you run out of innovative gift ideas.  How often have you shopped and simply can’t find exactly what you want?

Loose Tea blending is our business. And we’ve made it so easy!

Watch the video: How to create your unique blend

That was a lot of information but here it is again.

You can choose from one of four Carmién tea bases: herbal, dessert, fruity or spicy which will make up 80% of your blend. Then you can customise this blend even further by adding a variety of either more healthy elements specific to your needs, or a more unique flavour, or simply make it more pretty by adding some berries and flowers

WHERE ?

At Carmién Tea retail office in Paarden Eiland at Northgate office park.

WHEN ?

You decide but booking in advance is essential. Individual as well as groups of up to 12 are welcome. Two or more is always more fun.

Planting rooibos tea

Rooibos tea seems to love extremes when it comes to planting and harvesting. It gets planted in the cold of winter and harvested in the heat of summer. The Western  Cape, home to Rooibos, have had some really chilly days but it is so worth venturing out into the cold to watch the tea planting process. Sit back and enjoy watching this big event with us!

Of course, it starts with rain and just the right soil conditions. The Western Cape has been hard hit by drought so planting this year is very challenging and we are grateful for every drop of rain. Rooibos requires well drenched sandy soil but not so sandy that the water disappears too quickly. Depending on the type of soil, there are two options available to our farmers, direct seed sowing or planting seedlings.

We use the latter but gathering the seed is an interesting process. The Rooibos plant bears little yellow flowers which eventually burst into seed. These are collected by literally scraping together the top thin layer of soil around the plant. This ‘seed soil ‘ goes through a first sifting to get rid of most of the coarse sand. Then it gets sifted again but this time underwater so that the Rooibos seeds can float to the top and from there the seed, which has a hard outer scale, is put through a rubbing process to aid germination. The seed is returned to the nurseries where our seedlings are grown between Feb and early June.

Soil preparation, if it is a new field, starts just after the harvesting process which runs from Jan to April. At Carmién Tea we believe in conservation farming and minimum handling of the soil so no plowing takes place in establishing a new field. No animals are allowed on the fields at any stage. Wheat, also called the soil doctor, prepares the field for the seedlings and  is sown in this field the first year. The first seedlings are only planted during the second year of a new field’s existence. The wheat stubble is also left as protection.

Planting starts during the last weeks of June. Good rain is essential during this period as the soil needs to be well hydrated for the planting process which starts with holes , about 10-15 cm deep, being made at regular intervals. If the soil is too dry the holes close up before the plants can be inserted!

A special planting machine does 4 rows at a time and are manned with 8 people each who separate the seedlings and teams of two take turns placing them in slots which then on rotation takes them down to the ground where they are inserted in the holes.

Two wheels then close up and secure the little plants in the soil.

Quite mesmerizing to watch!

The little plants take about a month to settle. Although the Rooibos plant is quite hardy, planting has to be completed by end August as the seedlings are too big by September to establish successfully. Now the babysitting starts and keen eyes keep a watch on natural pests that may attack the plants.

In the first year of being planted a Rooibos field is just topped, not harvested. It is only harvested from year two and delivers peak crops for about four years wherafter it needs replacing again ….time for a younger generation to take over!

Carmién Rooibos Tea Planting from Carmién Tea on Vimeo.

It’s Mandela month

It’s Mandela month.

18 July

67 minutes.

Celebrating a remarkable life and legacy. We honor Nelson Mandela’s commitment to care for our children by continuing the privilege.

Here you see Max, one of our two traveling teastory characters, (Max and Maya, who look after the tea fields) visiting a crèche  at our Bergendal processing plant. Max had so much fun that he even tried a few dance steps himself but nothing beats the natural rhythm of Africa!

 

Carmién Madiba Day 2017 from Carmién Tea on Vimeo.

 

A  Rooibos tea gift is handed out to each child and two easy questions make someone the winner of a Carmién Tea t-shirt .

 

 

The children are treated to delicious Cookies and Cream flavored Rooibos tea with coconut marshmallows. A crowd favourite. Yum!

 

 

Of course no memory goes by without being captured in a specially created ‘selfie’ corner and then finally, it’s time to spend all that excited energy on some fun and games…and suddenly 67 minutes go by too quickly.

 

Introducing our Carmién Tea recycle project

 

On May 5 this year Carmién Tea and Mouton Citrus, opened our fourth community centre through our social upliftment arm, The Mouton Foundation. This means that we now have three fully equipped Early Childhood Development centres run by the Pebbles Project, our official education partner which is currently educating 80 children up to the age of five.

 

Below you see some cards made by these children, as a thank you for this investment in them. The cards will be sent out during this Mandela month with each of our online purchases or birthday gifts going out to Carmién Tea Club members.

 

 

These cards, plus an inevitable amount of unused byproducts from our packaging material, have sparked the idea of a recycle project. (You may have already been the recipient of our first test cards).

 

We have been collaborating with the Pebbles Project and our teachers, to incorporate card making, using the above items, as part of their creative curriculum. This has been received with great excitement and a trial run will be rolled out as soon as the schools re open. We trust that you will bear with us if some of them come out just a little crooked or more ‘creative’ than we envisage! Practice makes perfect. We also hope to stimulate some budding artists into coming up with some fresh initiative! Watch this space!

 

Mandela month is also a time to show our gratitude.

 

Our gratitude to the teachers who are willing to guide the children in this and to make them aware of the value of repurposing and conserving resources.

Our gratitude to our printers, Colourtone Aries (www.colourtonearies.co.za), for supporting us in our eco and social consciousness projects, and who is donating the printing of the basic card plus some of the elements required for the completion of the cards.

Our gratitude to you our customer. Your business enables us to do all this.

Our children. It is our privilege to contribute to your future.

3 Ways with Rooibos Espresso

The easiest way to warm-up this winter