Thursday, 18 October 2012

Chateau Rouge Rooibos Tisanes


Imagine an up market French Street crossing a South African herbalist street, and there on the corner you'll find Chateau Rouge selling their wonderful teas and tisanes. 

 Chateau Rouge gives tea the same French sophistication similar to what we’re used to seeing with coffee culture.  With a passion for exquisitely tasting luxury drinks, they aim to ‘recapture an age when explorers and traders returned from their travels with exotic, unknown discoveries’.  I couldn’t have put it better myself.  No more soggy tea bags and lacy doilies here, more likely a place where James Bond gets his tea (stirred, not shaken obviously).


Warm reds

I’ve started off my Chateau tour looking at the Rooibos tea, which is a Tisane (French for herbal tea).  It’s rapidly growing in popularity and i'm glad I finally have the chance to talk about one of my favourites!

I helped convert someone close to me to Rooibos a few years back (after failing in the pushing of green tea) and although we lost him to cancer recently, I'll always remember he'd ask for a 'redbush' when he came to visit. '"Rooibos" you mean?' I'd say with a wink, and 'redbush' he'd say back to me with another wink.  Sigh! 

Of course it's the perfect time of year for rooibos. It's not just the rich orange-red colour, reminiscent of the turning leaves of autumn, but also the slight woody taste like warming yourself up next to the crackling open fire.

From the Cedarberg region in the Western Cape of South Africa, the Rooibos plant gives you a naturally sweet taste, is caffeine-free and has less tannin than black teas.  People who like milk with their tea but want to benefit from the numerous health benefits of Rooibos, will find it a great start because you can drink it as it is, or add milk and sugar (or honey).  A friend recently back from South Africa posted some photos on Tea Street's Facebook page and told us the locals have milk and about five spoons of sugar in theirs! 

So what was the Chateau Rouge Rooibos like?  Well, I received two kinds of Rooibos wrapped beautifully from Chateau Rouge; one was the Organic Vanilla Rooibos and the other Wiedouw Rooibos, pronounced “we do”.


Rooibos is naturally full-bodied, but the Vanilla gives it another dimension.  The tisane remains smooth while the vanilla brings a sweeter taste that's quite subtle and doesn’t overpower the Tisane like some other brands with this blend.  

Organic Vanilla Rooibos

There’s surprisingly quite a bit of vanilla in the aftertaste, which was nice.  Chateau Rouge add 100% organic vanilla pods to this tea, rather than a vanilla essence and I think the natural flavouring is quite apparent...


The Wiedouw loose tea is full of rich colour like the Vanilla, but is naturally less sweet and has more of a grassy flavour to it.  This really takes you on a journey across the vast vistas from where the green bushes originate.  It’s also a gentle reminder of how delicious Rooibos is year round as you can really imagine drinking this in the warmer months as well.  Without the help of the Vanilla though, I think if you like a bit of sugar in your Rooibos, then you’d be more inclined to add a spoon to this one.

 Organic Wiedouw Rooibos

Overall, I’d recommend these tisanes whether you’re new to Rooibos or if you’ve tried it before, as you will likely find a difference in quality not experienced elsewhere.

It’s also worth noting you can re-steep this tea, which I always find useful because it makes teatime last longer (as well as the packet)!  Also you can see Chateau Rouge is a proud member of the Soil Association and the Rainforest Alliance.  Lovely!


In memory of Pete, lover of “Redbush”.