Teas of Africa & other parts of the world

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    Chrysanthemum Flower

    $6.00

    1oz. $5.50
    These organic blossoms make a pleasant and healthy infusion; it detoxifies blood and aids in regulating high blood pressure. Helps with sinus congestion and flu symptoms. Used as a dinner companion it facilitates digestion, particularly of fatty foods.

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    Hojicha

    $8.00

    2oz. $5.75
    From the Japanese green tea family; roasted Sencha and Bancha with a mild, nutty flavor. Contains less caffeine and tannins.

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    Organic China Sencha

    $8.00

    2oz. $7.00
    A steamed green tea from the peak growing season in the style of Japanese Sencha. A well balanced cup that is pleasant and mild, with a gentle pungency and smooth, vegetal characteristics.

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    Organic Raspberry Crush Herbal Tea

    $9.00

    2oz. $5.50
    Organic and naturally caffeine free, this hibiscus based tea is brisk and lively. Slightly tart and sweet raspberry flavor with refreshing lemongrass. Its brilliant red color makes for a beautiful iced tea.

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Tea was introduced into Africa via Uganda in 1900. This was done by private interests using seed from camellia seninsis (tea) from the Assam district in N.E. India. In Kenya the same was done in the 1920’s by Brooke, Bond and Company. By 1928 Kenya was sending finished tea to the London Tea Auction. From that point on many companies and individuals bought land in East and West Africa to begin huge estates and produce tea.

Due to the influence of the Mediterranean market most of the tea in the Western part of Africa is produced green, being cheaper and easier to get than Chinese tea. The British market helped to influence the Eastern growing areas to produce mostly black teas. Kenya and Tanzania are the largest tonnage producers. Still African teas made little impact on the European market outside of England, where it was strictly used as a blending tea and was considered to be of inferior quality.

International financing and the formation of the Kenya Tea Development Authority in 1964 helped boost Kenya’s industry and put focus on quality, greatly increasing the demand internationally and allowing them to get higher prices for their improved product. Today Kenyan Tea is coming into it’s own as a respected origin and can be found sold by name rather than in blends.

Rooibos (The new pride of Africa)

Rooibos (pronounced Roy-boss or Roy-Bosh) is actually Afrikaans for “red bush”. It is a broom like member of the legume family called Aspalathus Linearis. The needle like leaves of this plant (which are green before bruising and oxidation) are used to make an infusion much like tea, and has been for many generations in South Africa.

Rooibos is only grown in the Cederberg mountain region of the Western Cape Province of Africa. The mountain range is named after the endangered Clanwilliam cedar found in that area. The area is sparsely populated and the Town of Clanwilliam, where most Rooibos farmers live, has only a population of 5000. The summers are very hot and dry, while winters are cold and only nominally wetter with an average of 700mm of rainfall.

In this arid landscape is where Dutch Colonists first saw Khoisan natives collecting Rooibos and brewing it over cook fires. Dependant on supply ships for commodities such as tea they soon adopted this handy substitute. In 1903 Benjamin Ginsberg (of the famous Russian tea family) realized the potential of this local specialty and started to trade with the local Khoisan people who were harvesting it. He used his family connections to market his product and called it Mountain Tea. In 2006 Clanwilliam farmers harvested 15000 tons of Rooibos. This still makes up only ¼ of 1 percent f the world tea production.

The leaves are harvested in the hot summer months these green plant cuttings are bound, milled, wetted and bruised by rollers to stimulate the oxidation process. This process gives the leaves their reddish brown color and sweet, nutty flavor.

In addition to their flavor rooibos has gained international attention due to its low tannin and lack of any caffeine. Having no caffeine makes it an excellent choice for any time of day, and though tannins do have value they decrease the absorption of iron and protein into the body. The bush has also been scientifically proven to contain many helpful antioxidants and one study by the South African Medical Research Council has shown that the introduction of rooibos in rats induces two separate detoxifying enzymes that prevent oxidative stress to the liver. (Visit www.mrc.ac.za//promec/antimutagenic.htm) for more on this report.

Though this plant is constantly being found to have great health benefits it is also an excellent tasting beverage. Many “health” drinks have come and gone because they were; let’s face it, not good. Luck for us all that this healthy beverage is also excellent in flavor and will gain popularity taking is rightful place alongside tea.