Rooibos from Plant to Harvest

In the vast, sun-kissed plains of the Western Cape in South Africa, a remarkable journey unfolds—one that transforms the humble leaves of the indigenous Aspalathus linearis plant into the beloved and iconic beverage known as Rooibos tea. Rooted in centuries of tradition and a testament to human and nature’s resilience in the harsh yet beautiful Cederberg region, the process of making Rooibos tea is a testament to the country's heritage, sustainability practices, and commitment to quality.


The Harvesting Stage

The journey begins amidst the hard baked landscapes of the Cederberg, where the Rooibos plant thrives in sandy soil and a climate characterized by hot, dry summers and yet cold, wet winters. Most growth takes place in spring, as the plant's deep roots use the water from winter rains and milder spring temperatures to extend branches and establish leaves. Typically, the harvesting season spans from January to April, a time when the plants are at their peak. There is also a short early spring harvest, known as ‘top tea’ where just the longest stems are cut, which helps the plant become bushy.

Harvesters, armed with sickles, slash the mature Rooibos branches with precision, ensuring that the plant's delicate ecosystem remains undisturbed for future seasons. From here, they are baled and taken for further processing.


Processing the Leaves

Once harvested, the leaves are first cut mechanically and then bruised – typically by being driven over with a tractor to initiate oxidation; a crucial step that brings forth the characteristic red appearance and complex aroma. This unlocks its distinctive flavour profile.

Traditionally, the oxidation process takes place outdoors, where the leaves are spread in thin layers and left to bask in the Cederberg's boiling sun. As the leaves interact with the elements, they undergo a transformative journey, gradually developing the robust flavour and rich colour from the green plant colour to the authentic Rooibos tea pureness.

In the baking sun fields the journey of Rooibos tea reaches its pinnacle—a testament to the harmonious dance between nature and human tradition. As the sun beats down on the freshly harvested leaves, there's a profound sense of connection to the land and the centuries-old legacy it carries. Every step speaks volumes about South Africa's heritage, sustainability ethos, and unwavering commitment to excellence.


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