Rooibos Journey #1: the discovery of the South African Red Tea

Rooibos Journey #1: the discovery of the South African Red Tea

Have you ever experienced a journey in search of something undiscovered? Elisa, Giovanna and Stefano have been recently in South Africa looking for the praised Rooibos Tea. Here it is the first day of their unique travel-diary for OraZero.

 

Read here the Italian version of this article

South Africa is a dream. My collegue and tea lover Giovanna Donadel, Stefano Adami, an engineer with a passion for photography, and I spent 10 days travelling from Cape Town to the Citrusdal area crossing the Cederberg Wildnerness area; we visited as well the Cape of Good Hope, passing through the famous Wine Land and, eventually, back again to Citrusdal town.

Rooibos Journey, picture by Stefano Adami

It was an amazing journey, getting into the wonderful and wild nature of South Africa, which is extremely rich in colours and different varieties of rooibos tea, fruits and wine plantations. Since we came back we were willing to share with you our journey diary and now, thanks to OraZero magazine, we are pleased to give you some suggestions and useful tips if you are planning to travel there or for who wish to discover the natural, cultural and gastronomic traditions of South Africa. Here what happened the first day:

Day One – Cape Town

After a 14-hour flight we landed in Cape Town. Despite the long-haul, the trip flew away quite quickly, we stopped over at London and enjoyed some shopping at Heathrow airport waiting for all night long international flight.

 

Is the 23rd of March 2015, we landed around 7 am, and the sun was shining quite strongly even though it is autumn in South Africa right now. We went straight to pick up our rented car and…off we all went toward Cederberg!

 

Rooibos Journey, picture by Stefano Adami

CAPE TOWN AND THE CEDERBERG

Cederberg is a wild area located approximately at 300 km North of Cape Town. Stefano easily got used to drive on the left side in the middle of the traffic jam. The atmosphere was serene, the streets were full of people walking and smiling to us, we drove fast toward the Cederberg, our area of interest where Rooibos tea grows.

Rooibos Journey, picture by Stefano Adami

THE CEDERBERG WILDNERNESS AREA

The road was in perfect conditions. In front of us there was only a breathtaking horizon, with a clear blue sky and a green, red and yellow landscape. The vegetation is extremely rich as well, and we started to see some vineyards and the fruit trees for which this territory is famous. We tried to guess which was the Rooibos bush, but still we could not identify it. On our way we met lots of oxen and ostriches, gazing at us curiously.

Rooibos Journey, picture by Stefano Adami

FIRST STOP: HEBRON GUEST HOUSE & THE ROOIBOS ROUTE

We arrived at the Hebron Guest House in about 2 hour time, this is the first stop at the famous “Rooibos Route”, a real tour through farms and accommodations all involved in production and dealing Rooibos tea. Steve Oldroyd, the owner, was waiting for us, he shew us the accommodation and the main dining house which was beautifully decorated with light colours, small hand-made objects and fresh flowers. Our rooms were so inviting and comfy: well furnished, cozy beds, free wifi, and with a tray overflowing of fresh fruits and rooibos tea for us. The dining house was just nearby, there Steve together with his wife and four sons works all day long looking after his guests and garden, cooking tasteful breakfasts and dinners and taking care of his special variety of flowers he trades to Europe!

Hebron Guet House, picture by Stefano Adami

Steve explained to us that the term “hebron” comes from the Old Testament, and in the origin it stood for a place where travellers used to stop and rescue from sickness and tiredness with no need to declare their religion.

This cozy and welcoming atmosphere still characterize this place today! We could not wait anymore and we sipped immediately the first cup of Rooibos tea: Steve cherishes the one produced by CARMIEN TEA, which is the first farm we visited the day after….so delicious!

 

Rooibos Journey- Hebron Guest House, picture by Stefano Adami

 

Carmien tea, picture by Stefano Adami

ROOIBOS MANIA

Steve introduced us to the Rooibos tea world telling to us how this tea is a proper resource for South Africa: the variety of Rooibos he deals with grows in the neighbouring Carmien Tea Farm, and it is used as a drink and as an ingredient for lots of recipes…we have the same idea about using tea in the kitchen as the recipes suggested by Il Bollitore for OraZero magazine! After the first sip of Rooibos Syrup we fixed an appointment for a tea&wine tasting the following day.

ROOIBOS TEA:

For who does not know the Rooibos tea we are talking about – actually not so well known in Italy – we must say that it is an herbal tea which derives from a red bush growing only and exclusively in the Cederber Wildness area in South Africa.  It is not related with our common “tea” people use to drink in Europe deriving from Camelia Sinensis, that but we mean the one deriving from the Aspalathus linearis, a bush naturally caffeine free, also rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and polyphenols.

Piantagioni di Rooibos, foto di Stefano Adami

CITRUSDAL & THE OSTRICHES

During the afternoon we decided to go and discover the Citrusdal valley, acclaimed for its greenery and plantation of fruit trees. We crossed the Olifants river and we go further toward the mountains which detach ourselves from other plantations of rooibos tea, fruit and wine. Citrusdal is a small town full of people standing at the road’s borders, looking at us with curious eyes. On our way we saw lots of ostriches: it is said that the first business of this flightless birds begun in the 1860s. At that time, after a long period of drought, the farmers realized that ostriches could survive a longer without water than other animals, so they started off breeding them.

Rooibos Journey, picture by Stefano Adami

After a short stop to the Bydidam resort shooting some pictures in front of the pond, we chose to have at the Piekenierskloof Restaurant – Hotel, just in front of our accommodation.

Rooibos Journey, picture by Stefano Adami

Rooibos Journey, picture by Stefano Adami

WINE&FOOD

We sat on the terrace of the Piekenierskloof restaurant-hotel gazing at the sunset over the Citrusdal valley. We were really curious regarding the typical food and wine of this area, so we asked for any suggestions to the waiter: he recommended Beef Fillet with a rosted wrapped in bacon with soutee mushrooms and spinach cream, and the biltong, a classic salty beef and fully tasty. We paired the meal with the CEDERBERG SHIRAZ 2013, from one of the most important and famous cellars of the area located at 1063 metres of altitude. Everything heavenly exquisite!

While leaving the restaurant we received an invitation to come back the day after for a cocktail and Rooibos tasting…we were really curious about enjoying that!

So the first day came to the end, and realizing how really busy it was, we went to bed under this starred sky.

Rooibos Journey, picture by Stefano Adami

To be continued… follow us in order to discover the rest of The Rooibos Journey Diary

Words by Elisa Da Rin Puppel, picture by Stefano Adami, English review by Alessandra Rovetta

Read here the second part of the Rooibos Journey Diary…

 

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