Sunbird's founder Anton used to be a winemaker and this afforded him the opportunity to be immersed into the world of flavours. After leaving the wine industry and graduating in environmental science, he wrote his thesis on another beverage - coffee! So, Anton's path towards tea and Rooibos tea in particular was quite natural.
"Many individuals, particularly those who are well-versed in flavours and aromas, tend to enjoy single-origin coffee or terroir wine as it affords them the opportunity to experience a particular taste that is unique to a place. This thinking had not been applied to Rooibos yet in a meaningful way."
The term 'single origin' is essentially as it sounds - it means that the coffee bean or tea leaf comes from one place only, usually from a certain region, country or as in our case, from a particular farm. The French word terroir refers to the set of local growing conditions affecting the crop, including unique soils, micro-climates, interactions with other species and to a lesser extent, farming practices.
"Our current range is not blended or flavoured – the flavour distinctions, although nuanced, are derived from the unique growing conditions of our suppliers. We did this to showcase Rooibos as one would premium wine – allowing the soils, climate and ecology of the site to have subtle influence on the flavour."
This is why we prefer our Rooibos teas black and unsweetened. In teas and coffees, milk and sugar tends to be added out of habit to mask poorer quality. One might start on the basic version, but as they graduate to better stuff, the habit remains. Once you reach a certain level, adding these masks some of the wonderful flavours in the cup - a waste of money, and a denial of pleasure. The other benefit is black teas and coffees are healthier being lower in calories - or zero, in Rooibos' case.
"We're proud that we can bring out a range of Rooibos teas that show respect for the land from which they came and give credit to the hands that work them. We're also excited about the future that this line of thought can go, because we're only just scratching the surface."