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Tea In South Africa

Zulu tea has found a niche market in Europe and the U.S.

The first tea plants in South Africa,brought from Kew Gardens in England, were planted south of the Limpopo River in the Durban Botanical Gardens, Natal, in 1850. When commercial cultivation started in 1877, the seeds planted were from Assam. By 1881/82, production had reached just over 1/4 ton and by 1884/85, had increased to 28.5 tons. In 1886, Natal produced 40 tons - all for local consumption - and in 1889, there were some dozen estates with 1,090 acres under tea.

In the early part of this century, commercial cultivation started in KwaZulu - Natal, but by 1949, production had ceased due to high labor and packaging costs, and depressed world markets. In the 1960s,the tea-producing company, Sapekoe , was established, and new areas for production were planted along the Drakensberg mountains in Eastern Transvaal and in parts of Natal and the Transkei. Since 1973, more estates have been set up in the Levubu area, in Venda, and in central Zululand which is near Ntingwe.

The leaf is harvested in the short rainy season from November to March and most is processed by a modified CTC method. In the early 1990s, drought conditions had an adverse effect on both production .and quality, and in 1999 production was down to 11,697.7 tons compared to 14,042.3 in 1989. However tea bushes recovered remarkably well and production is now at 12,015.1 tons.

South Africans drink approximately 10 billion cups of tea annually--about 67 percent of which is in tea bags. Because of such high consumption within the country, almost all of the teas grown are sold locally and are very rarely seen in the world auctions. However, Zulu tea is currently being exported from the Ntingwe Tea Estate in KwaZulu-Natal and has found a niche market in northern England, marketed by Taylors of Harrogate in the company's "Betty's" tea-shops, and is popular elsewhere in Europe and the U.S.

South Africa is also famous for its Rooibosch (Rositea) or red tea which is processed from the leaf of Aspalathus linoaris, not from Camellia sinensis .The liquor, which looks and tastes much like tea and is drunk with milk in the same way, is becoming well known throughout Europe and the U.S. Its popularity is probably due to the fact that it is 100 percent caffeine free and is rich in vitamin C, mineral salts, and proteins.

Zulu Tea
Characteristics: Clonal black tea that gives a fresh, lively brew.
Brewing hints: Brew 1 teaspoon in a scant 1 cup water at 203°F. Infuse for 2 to 3 minutes.
Drinking recommendations: Drink with milk. Perfect breakfast tea.

Recommend our Cast Iron Tea Sets to brew these teas.