Food and drink have become such an integral part of tourism that our travel is dictated by our taste buds, and no holiday is complete without some sort of pairing.
When coffee beans took over the world a few years ago, a whole new language and culture was created, as were billions of new caffeine addicts.
Now many people are becoming concerned about their caffeine addiction, but really, who would want to give up coffee?
The good news is you don’t have to, just buy a teapot. It’s that easy.
Then experiment until you find your favourite rooibos tea flavours and add them to your daily liquid intake, reducing your coffee consumption proportionately.
You don’t even have to abandon your coffee culture habits as you can buy capsules for your Nespresso and make a Red Cappuccino, Rooibos Espresso or Rooibos Chai all made by Carmien Tea.
Rooibos teas are organic, totally caffeine free, naturally sweet and have no kilojoules at all.
Whatever your taste, you will find a natural, green or herbal infused tea to suit your palate
Rooibos tea is a national treasure, unique to South Africa. The only place in the world where it can be successfully grown is 60 000 hectare belt within the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor, in the West Coast region of the Cape Province.
The Farm Tour.
On a bitterly cold morning we arrived at Bergendal and Ilze Bruwer from Carmien took us straight to one of the rooibos fields. The icy wind froze our faces as we sheltered under umbrellas from the light rain that started to fall.
We walked a little, stopping to sniff the unremarkable, slightly scruffy looking plants growing in this beautiful valley while Ilze spoke with pride and passion about this miracle bush called Rooibos.
The weather deteriorated fast and we took a short drive to the hub of the business where the harvested plants begin the transformation to delicious tea. Most of the rooibos branches are cut to lengths varying from 1,5 to 5 mm before being bruised to aid natural reactions which develop the colour and flavour of the tea. At this point the green rooibos is crushed and fermented before the drying process.
The rooibos is now left in heaps to ferment for 10 -14 hours before being spread out on the massive yards to dry naturally in the sun. It is then graded according to size, flavour, colour and taste before being sterilized by steam pasteurisation.
The fine dust from the tea created orange and red puddles on the rain drenched courtyard and we splashed through them as we made our way to thaw out with a tea tasting.
We warmed up in the tasting room with Rooibos Chai, followed by a delicious Green rooibos, ginger and chilli tea and finished with a surprisingly good flower infused brew called Vintage Romance.
Wine, tea and food pairing.
Follow up your farm tour with a tasting at Hebron situated just up the road on the way back to the pass. The entrance is opposite the Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort. For the not so hungry you can do four pairings with various teas, wines and lovely snacks like Lindt dark chocolate, Turkish Delight, goats cheese and dried sausage or you can go all out and have a four course meal with wines and teas to compliment each serving.
Due to the cold outside and the cozy atmosphere in the Hebron room we did it all, led by the food wizard Arnel Pellegrom.
I must confess that not being much of a foodie I can find pairings boring, pretentious and baffling at times but Arnel will entertain and enlighten any sceptic. Her enthusiastic descriptions of why she selected a specific tea and Groot Constantia Wine to compliment each course was backed by quite a lot of scientific facts which I found very interesting.
I also loved her ability to admit that sometimes what she dreams up does not work as she thought it would, and then she grins and says the only way to really know is to taste it.
Just to tempt you, here are the tasty details of my two favourite courses at Hebron.
Grilled loin of Springbok with pearl barley risotto and quince jelly paired with Carmien Vanilla Mocha and Groot Constantia Shiraz.
Phyllo mille feuille with blood orange sabayon paired with Carmien Cherry and Orange and my favourite drink in the whole wide world, Groot Constantia Grand Constance.
Do this, it is different, it is exciting for your mouth and it is good for you.
While we sipped Ilze talked us through the multitude of herbs, flowers, spices, fruits and nuts that Carmien are continuously experimenting with and adding to their teas to provide exciting new tastes and added health benefits.
Natural Rooibos is high in anti-oxidants, contains no kilojoules and is very low in tannin.
It also replaces essential minerals like iron, zinc, sodium and potassium, alleviates allergies, and is soothing to the nervous system. These are just a few of the health benefits of rooibos tea.
What’s the big deal about anti- oxidants?
Anti- oxidants and free radicals occur naturally in the human body. The problem occurs when the balance between free radicals and anti- oxidants is off. Our modern lifestyle filled with environmental toxins, stress, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, cigarette smoking and UV rays increases the amount of free radicals in our bodies and this is not a good thing. Free radicals are blamed for all sorts of badness, from compromised immune systems to cell mutation, heart problems, cancer and other life threatening diseases.
The best and most natural way to control free radicals is to make sure we have a healthy intake of anti-oxidants and all Rooibos products have this is abundance. So now you know.
About the company called Carmien Tea.
The HQ and farm is situated on the Bergendal Estate near the top of the Piekenierskloof Pass in the heart of Rooibos country. Here they grow rooibos and do all the producing and packaging of the organic rooibos they grow and from the farms they source from in Piekenierskloof, Nieuwoudville, Wupperthal and Gifberg.
The Feel Good Factors.
Their motto is Growing Goodness and this sums up exactly what they do.
They grow goodness in the way that they and the affiliate estates farm. By letting nature do her job they produce healthy, organic tea.
They grow goodness in the way they look after the farm workers and their children, providing crèches, kindergarten and after school facilities that are all well equipped with everything young people need to successfully thrive and learn. They provide bursaries and walk the talk when they state the children are the future.
They grow goodness in the way they support the community and the future of the business by making the workers on Bergendal shareholders in the rooibos industry.
They grow goodness by their commitment to FairTrade principles and practices and to the nine certification bodies they are regularly audited by.
There is a Carmien tea for every occasion
The best way to prepare rooibos is to allow it to draw for 3 minutes. For the maximum benefit and best taste drink it without milk, sugar or honey. The best temperature is about 60 degrees but it can be enjoyed as an iced tea too.
It’s a tea for the whole family.Special blends are available for expectant and nursing mums and an organic kiddies and babies tea is available at the affordable price of R17 for 40 teabags.Start your kids in infancy and set them on a healthy path for life.
Get creative and pair it with food and wine or food and beer, you will be surprised at the results.
Try this for a few days and then tell me how great you feel.
- Start your day with a cup of Carmien Rooibos vanilla mocha if you are missing your coffee flavours.
- Before a meal sip on the Carmien Green Honeybush, Rooibos and Mint tea as it is a palate cleanser, have another cup after your meal as it helps to digest your food and the anti-oxidants break down the any fats you have consumed. Great for detoxing and cleansing.
- If you suffer from allergies, circulation problems, high cholesterol, headaches, stomach cramps, indigestion or stress there is a tea that will aid the alleviation of your symptoms.
- For pure enjoyment Carmien Rooibos Chai contains cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves and black pepper. Chai spices are said to naturally heal the body and promote heart health.
- Before going to sleep a cup of Carmien Rooibos and Camomile for a good night’s rest.
To browse the Carmien Range and order online click here
Book a tasting at Hebron, Citrusdal, South Africa
+27 (0)22 921 2595 / +27 (0)22 921 2581
Book a farm tour at Bergendal ideally two days in advance by calling 022 921 8900
Carmien and Hebron are on the WestCoastWaySA Berg Route.