Harvesting, Cutting, Fermenting
HARVESTING: The Rooibos crop is harvested once a year during summer and early autumn when branches are cut and bound into sheaves.
The sheaves are machine-cut to uniform lengths of between 1.5 mm and 5 mm.
CUTTING: Cuttings are bruised to facilitate the natural plant phenolic activities which develop the characteristic colour and flavour of this tea, hence the name Rooibos (Red Bush).
FERMENTING: After watering and airing, the tea is left to “sweat” or ferment in heaps. Temperature during sweating 34°C – 38°C for 10 – 14 hours. The “fermentation” process involves oxidation, brought about by enzymes naturally present in the plant. During this process the product changes from green to a deep amber colour and develops its distinctive aroma.
After the sweating process, the tea is sun-dried before being sorted and graded according to length, colour, flavour and taste.
UNFERMENTED ROOIBOS: Green Rooibos is made from the same plant as traditional Rooibos. The only difference is in the processing. For traditional Rooibos, the green leaves and stems of the plant are crushed and “fermented” before drying. The fermentation step is actually an oxidation process brought about by enzymes and chemicals naturally present in the plant. In the case of green Rooibos, the fermentation process is skipped, and the “green” leaves and stems are dried directly. Different processes are used to prevent oxidation.
Green (unfermented) Rooibos infusion has a lighter tan/yellow colour and a very mild "green" taste reminiscent of green tea.
DRYING: Rooibos tea is 100% naturally sundried.
STERILISATION: After sifting, the tea is sterilised through steam pasteurisation and dried over hot air beds. Steam Temperature during pasteurisation – 135°C. Product temperature 94°C for minimum of 1.5minutes.
GRADING/PACKING: The Rooibos is sorted and graded according to length, colour, flavour and aroma. All Rooibos, whether for domestic use or the export market, is steam pasteurized to ensure a product of high microbial quality.
PACKING: The product is then sent in bulk to various packers and exporters worldwide.