Saturday, September 22, 2012

Today's First Cuppa? African Autumn from Harney & Sons

A favourite cuppa and a bit of irony to start this first day of a new season!

It's the first day of Spring in South Africa, the first day of Autumn in the United States, and I'm starting the day with African Autumn (that season actually runs from March to June in Cape Town). There's a bit of irony in there but I'll put a pox on the house of anyone who suggests I am embracing the qualities of hipsters. Enough about hipsters, let's get to the tea.

Harney & Sons African Autumn blends the earthiness of South African Rooibos, also called Redbush, with the tang of Cranberry and Orange. The tea itself is a deep orange color, its warmth recalls the late afternoon sky just before the sun slumbers for the night. A great attribute of rooibos is that it is caffeine free, making it a great choice for a late night cuppa.

To be a true tea, a beverage is made from the steeped leaves of Camellia sinensis plant, but in the contemporary vernacular pretty much any plant or plant part that is steeped is called a tea (hence ginger tea). Rooibos tea comes about with a process that is similar to the one used for Camellia sinensis in which leaves are allowed to oxidize. In their natural state the leaves are green, that gorgeous orange color of the tea comes about in the oxidation process. There's noting strange about oxidation, it just means exposure to oxygen, in this case the process takes place under the African sun.

Rooisbos is only grown in the Western Cape province of South Africa. This region is home to Cape Town as well as those African Penguins, yes, Penguins in Africa, that I fancy so much. Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange NJ has a great collection of African Penguins. Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, was the Anglican Bishop of Cape Town. Someday we'll share a pot of African Autumn and discuss the work of Bishop Tutu, but that will be another time.

One of my favourite wintertime drinks is a Cape Town Fog. Steep rooibos in steamed milk for a great pick me up! The complexity of African Autumn makes a Cape Town fog even better!

African Autumn is available in many supermarkets and on Harney.com