Journey Diary #4: Old Village and Buchu Tea

Journey Diary #4: Old Village and Buchu Tea


 Read here this article in Italian

Pioneers tea, here we are again! Next to the list, after acres of Rooibos plantations and its secrets, was the Buchu.

We woke up on the whispered cry of “Pioneers we are!” That was the role we were on going to play bringing on the new day, the fourth of this extraordinary journey to the discovery of something new and exclusive. Ready again to deal with a very intensive program!

Journey Diary - Rooibos & Buchu in South Africa - OraZero

After the revelation of all the secrets about the red tea at Carmien Tea Farm and Wupperthal Village, another brand-new tea is on its way to unfold: the Agathosma betulina, according to the scientific classification, or colloquially referred to as Buchu. Actually, we have already seen the Buchu leaves mixed with the Rooibos ones, especially with other herbs such as Rooibos & Buchu, and Rooibos & Honeybush Buchu. It is said indeed, according to the tea experts we entertained with, it is a South African small shrub which grows spontaneously but not so wide extended as you may think; it tastes forcefully strong: being the flavour so intense it is usually blended with other teas.

What To Know: The Buchu leaves bring many beneficial properties: can cause decreased appetite, can stimulate the dieresis, high in antioxidants, antiseptic, can act properly as potent soothing agent for skin irritation, wounds and burns and can help for people suffering from psoriasis.  As we previously said, it is usually mixed with Rooibos or Honeybush due to its intense aroma and reminiscent flavour of mothball but drunk pure too, as an herbal remedy. Moreover, the extract from the leaves of Buchu is widely used in cosmetics: the essential oil is used in the manufacture of creams, shampoos and bars of soap.

Journey Diary - Rooibos & Buchu in South Africa - OraZero

We reached the peaks at an altitude greater than 650 meters above sea level where these shrub plantations are located, so we experienced not only a great tea tasting but we found out and saw with our own eyes all about cultivation and harvesting methods, drying and extraction processes as well.


In view of a long car journey to reach the heights we just had our palates pampered by Steve who set an excellent and lavish breakfast with local fruits, including mango and Litchis, and then yogurt, jam and cheese. We peacefully enjoyed this lush meal, carefully arranged the last details and it was time to pack and go through the wild South Africa.

Journey Diary - Rooibos & Buchu in South Africa - OraZero

OLD VILLAGE: the first settlement of the Citrusdal community

There was no traffic along the route and at some point we set a stop at the OLD VILLAGE, where we had dinner the first night and somebody now was waiting for us: Sonia, the restaurant owner, warmly welcomed us. As we mentioned on the second day of the travel diary, the Old Village is the first Dutch settlement in South Africa which dating back to 1700 and just here they began to develop their agriculture activities and citrus fruits plantation for which today the Citrusdal Valley is renowned.

Journey Diary - Rooibos & Buchu in South Africa - OraZero

Sonia introduced her friend David to us, her indispensable assistant at the restaurant, too. He showed to us the residence complex which is now called “cottages”, rented to the tourists for short stays and vacation. Actually, this settlement still stands on the authentic walls of the first buildings erected by the Dutch.

Together with David we entered a large cottage and …what a surprise! A beautiful terrace, fully exposed to the valley, offered a stunning view over the plantations of organic lemons, which are mainly exported to Germany. David explained to us this was a rooibos storage warehouse many years ago, being widely cultivated at the time; on the other hand the second cottage was a blacksmith workshop in this neighbourhood.

Journey Diary - Rooibos & Buchu in South Africa - OraZero

We advanced into the urban settlement and ran into an ancient church and an old post office: the previous restoration works have brought to light the original and authentic walls so you can admire the site in all its magnificence.

Journey Diary - Rooibos & Buchu in South Africa - OraZero

But… ops, time was running out so at once we got going to reach the Mouton’s Valley, that was a two-hour wild drive to our next destination to the discovery of the South African shrub Buchu!

Buchu Plantations: Mouton’s Valley Pty Ltd and Mrs. Michael Starke

Bearing in mind the advice from Steve, we easily achieved the Mouton’s Valley climbing up the mountain through the Piket-bo-beg. Stepping back in time at Hebron Guest House the night before, we met Mrs. Michel Starke while we were having an excellent dinner prepared by Steve, and chatting one thing and another we bumped into the news she kept some plantations just up there. What a  coincidence! She kindly invited us to visit her farm as soon as possible. So here we were climbing heights!

Journey Diary - Rooibos & Buchu in South Africa - OraZero

Michel welcomed us with an inviting smile and without hesitation we jumped directly on her Rover 4X4 riding toward the higher peak, the specific area where Buchu is gathered and processed. It took about twenty minutes, and after crossing dirty roads, finally we arrived at a small settlement where two workers were about to process the newly picked Buchu leaves.

Journey Diary - Rooibos & Buchu in South Africa - OraZero - Picture by Stefano Adami

This operation is very simple seeing that it merely consists of cutting the entire shrub roots at their second year of germination, then they are dipped directly into a large aluminium container in which some steam is passed through. From the Buchu leaves, once processed and whirled as well, you can extract and obtain a peculiar oil which is widely used in cosmetics.

Journey Diary - Rooibos & Buchu in South Africa - OraZero - Picture by Stefano Adami

Of course we suggest to try the Buchu tea mixed together with Rooibos, or pure as it is: that’s a unique teatime experience…we have tried at the Rooibos Tea House…the review on the next page of our Journey Diary!

The surprises were not over: we came across some remarkable bush paintings in the middle of nowhere, For that we cannot say where exactly they are but this is another reason to discover the beautiful and unexpected treasures here in South Africa.

English translation from the Italian version by Alessandra Rovetta

Pictures by Stefano Adami

Read here the first page of our diary!


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