A while ago, I bought a box of green tea at Woolworths, and promptly forgot about it at the back of a kitchen cupboard. Well, many months later I uncovered it, tried it, and really liked it. To the point where it’s become part of my Sunday morning routine – get up, make a mug of green tea (in my favourite mug), enjoy in the garden with some sliced ripe fruit. I also liked that the tea was grown not in far off China, but in KZN, as part of a social empowerment project to provide jobs to people living in the surrounding rural community. In a land of no-name tea bags, the box proudly proclaimed “From Ntingwe Tea Estate”. While coffee culture has heralded single estate coffees for several years, tea culture has been slow to honour the farms where any given cuppa hails from. Which makes the work of a few terroir-minded tea houses overseas all the more interesting to me. But when I went back to Woolworths to restock last month, I was dismayed to discover that they now only stock China-grown green tea.
So. I hit the internet.
Ntingwe Estate doesn’t have much online presence, but by my usual hard-to-find farmer standards, not too tricky to track down. I eventually found a phone number that worked, spoke to a very helpful gentleman called Steyn, placed an order, paid an invoice via EFT, and collected a paper-wrapped box from the Mowbray post office last week. Even through the paper (a thriftily reused Typek wrapper that had once housed a ream of printing paper), the whole package gave off this fantastic, almost winey aroma of tannins and dried plants.
Inside were little foil sachets of green and black tea bags (for me and my staff to take home and enjoy in the office), and neatly folded brown paper bags, each holding a kilo of loose green and black tea. Heaven.
We’ve made a couple test batches with both teas, and they’re pretty full flavoured. I’m not sure if they will be everyone’s cup of tea (!) but Abi has asked to take the black tea ice cream with her to St George’s Market today, to see how it goes down with her regular customers.
Next stage is probably to figure out a paired flavour, like peach and black tea, or green tea and raspberry. Yum!