South African Rooibos Tea Added to Frontier Natural Products Co-oop's Well Earth Ingredients

| 10/21/2011 12:16:05 PM

Tags: Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Well Earth, rooibos tea, natural caffeine free tea, Press Release,

In its ongoing search for sources of high-quality botanicals, the organic spice experts at Frontier Natural Products Co-op™ recently established a working partnership with tea growers in South Africa. As part of its Well Earth™ program, Frontier invested $20,000 to help revamp the rooibos tea production and fermentation process at a farmers’ cooperative in the Cederberg Mountains on the southern edge of the Kalahari Desert.

Harvested during the South African summer (mid-Jan through April), the rooibos (pronounced "roy-boss") shrub Aspalathus linearis thrives in the poor soil and arid climate of the Cederberg mountains.  Rooibos is the only cash crop in the region and has been used for generations by the indigenous Koi and San tribes.

The tea is made from the shrub’s dried, oxidized young leaves and branches. Rooibos (translated from Afrikaans) means “red bush,” which is why the tea is often referred to as bush tea or red tea. Naturally caffeine-free, Frontier’s slightly sweet and nutty brew can be enjoyed any time of day.

Hands-on Partnership 

A cooperative of 86 small-scale, native farmers produces Frontier’s rooibos.  During apartheid, these farmers were forced onto the most unproductive land in the region.  Today, however, this marginal land is home to the highest-quality rooibos in the world. The production process improvements provided by Frontier have resulted in extremely balanced fermentation of the rooibos tea, creating a finer flavor and even more dramatic red color.

Key improvements to the grower co-op’s rooibos production include a highly sophisticated mechanical crushing system and automated de-clumping equipment, as well as sanitation and food safety improvements – a first in the rooibos tea industry.  Implemented in January, the new techniques have reduced waste from 15 percent to less than 1 percent – a huge boon to the small farmers who depend on red tea for their livelihoods.

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