Fraser Tea Farm Direct Rooibos Farm Visit - South Africa
When thoughts turn to South Africa, they often conjure up images of captivating Safaris and the breathtaking coastline that leads to the majestic Cape of Good Hope. For Bernie Fraser, of Fraser Tea, visiting the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa had always been a lifelong dream. I had initially envisioned sailing around this iconic cape like the intrepid explorers of old, but found myself overwhelmed with joy at the opportunity to traverse its steep cliffs and immerse myself in the sheer beauty of South Africa. This journey led me to an Organic Rooibos farm nestled just outside the charming town of Clan William in the Cederberg region of South Africa.
In my quest to connect with the origins of tea, fueled by Fraser Tea's unwavering commitment to sustainable sourcing, propelled me to witness firsthand the meticulous processes and organic practices that make KlipOpMekaar an exemplar of excellence in the industry. Many are unaware that South Africa boasts its own Floral Kingdom, where certain plants flourish exclusively within its borders. Among these unique botanical treasures are Rooibos and Honeybush, both of which find their way into several of Fraser Tea's unique blends.
From the moment I set foot on this farm, I was captivated by its striking beauty and the warm-hearted individuals who shared their profound knowledge and love for Rooibos. KlipOpMekaar spans an impressive 6500 hectares (25 square miles), with only around 600 (2.3 sq miles) of those are used for farming. Nestled along a picturesque ridge, the farm has a rich diversity of wildlife, including playful monkeys, graceful leopards, and fascinating spiders. I was immediately struck by KlipOpMekaar's steadfast dedication to organic cultivation as I walked through the sprawling Rooibos fields, witnessing the tender care bestowed upon each and every plant. KlipOpMekaar's unwavering commitment to sustainable farming practices was readily apparent, with a harmonious balance struck between preserving the natural ecosystem and nurturing the vitality of the soil. Employing a clever organic farming technique, they strategically interplant local species between Rooibos sections, providing a natural deterrent to insects—a testament to their ingenuity.
Sustainability lies at the very heart of KlipOpMekaar's ethos. I eagerly absorbed knowledge about their innovative water conservation initiatives and waste management practices, aimed at minimizing the farm's ecological footprint. Furthermore, KlipOpMekaar's unwavering dedication to renewable energy sources exemplified their resolute commitment to forging a greener future. To adapt to South Africa's changing climate, the farm ingeniously taps into a natural underground aquifer, harnessing the power of solar panels to run pumps that draw water from the earth, channeling it into a vast basin connected to pipelines supplying water to the fields. This ingenious approach ensures a consistent and sustainable crop, bringing not only stability to the workers but also to the entire supply chain, culminating in a beverage of uncompromising quality savored by Rooibos enthusiasts worldwide.
The processing of Rooibos proved a revelation for me as it was quite different from the techniques employed in other tea production. The delicate art of transforming Rooibos leaves into aromatic, flavorful tea unfurled before my eyes. Unlike with tea leaves, water is used in processing Rooibos to begin this fermentation process allowing the rich South African sun to dry and give it its rich red color.
As with any farm visit, the experience culminated in a delightful tasting of different Rooibos grades—a tradition that never fails to enchant. True to form, the unique flavor profiles and distinct characteristics of various Rooibos varieties unfolded, offering me a sensory journey through the rich tapestry of South African tea culture. My palate revealed in the subtle nuances and soothing qualities that set Rooibos apart as an adored beverage.
Throughout the visit, an enriching exchange of knowledge and impassioned discussions fostered a profound connection between me and the KlipOpMekaar team. I was overcome with awe when he was brought into caves on the farm, where drawings from the prehistoric civilization were unveiled. Witnessing this remarkable link between Rooibos and human civilization, I found myself contemplating the notion that Rooibos may well predate even the revered teas from China—an intriguing possibility that further fueled his passion.
For me, tea has always served as a conduit for forging connections with people and cultures, and this visit only reinforced that belief. As the day ended, he basked in the tranquility of a South African sunset gracing the KlipOpMekaar farm while partaking in a traditional Braai (barbecue)—a heartfelt celebration of camaraderie and shared joy.
Upon bidding farewell, I expressed profound gratitude to the KlipOpMekaar team for their genuine warmth and unwavering hospitality, recognizing the rare privilege of immersing himself in the world of organic Rooibos. Reflecting on his journey, he underscored the profound significance of KlipOpMekaar's unwavering commitment to quality, sustainability, and innovation. The visit stood as a testament to the extraordinary and unrivaled products that Fraser Tea could now share with tea enthusiasts across the globe.
My farm direct visit to KlipOpMekaar not only deepened my understanding of the Rooibos industry but also reinforced my belief that partnerships founded on shared values can effect lasting change. Fraser Tea takes great pride in offering KlipOpMekaar's Organic and Rainforest Alliance Rooibos in a multitude of their blends, showcasing a harmonious collaboration that embodies their mutual dedication to excellence and sustainability.