Wiedouw Rooibos: defining the indefinable

All teas are special, but some are more special than others. Some pick you up, others calm you down. Some are for summer afternoons, others are for your darkest hours. Some need no introduction, others are diamonds in the rough, waiting for their time to shine. One has a South African accent: rooibos.

Until recently, I was a rooibos rookie: to me, it simply sounded like some kind of obscure insult. But then something magical happened. Enter stage left Chateau Rouge Tea. Never heard of them? You will soon. Bold, visionary and oh so suave, they’ve been gracing teacups since 2009. Don’t be fooled by their youthful credentials: this tea company knows what it wants and is sure to get it. And it just so happened that they wanted me to try-out two of their unique blends of rooibos.

“Sign here please” resounded in the hallway as I caught sight of the box the postman was holding. Generously adorned with the Chateau Rouge logo, I was overcome by a child-like excitement which was swiftly usurped by a sense of fear. “I’m no rooibos expert. I can’t even pronounce it” I told myself. But all self-doubt and anxiety was washed away as I filled the kettle and delved into the box.

The mere sight of the effervescent metallic packet told me that I was embarking on a whirlwind romance and that the rest of my tea cupboard was about to endure some serious neglect. Chateau Rouge’s loose-leaf rooibos is inconceivably soft to the touch, not to mention enticing to every other sense imaginable. And if you thought the pronunciation of this South African red-bush tea (‘ROY-boss’) was baffling, try summing up its flavour in less than 5671 words.

But here goes nothing…

Each mugful oozes a sense of glorious exclusivity. Hints of sweet vanilla dance among unmistakable, unshakable malty and nutty tones, stirring the mind and warming the heart. Sip after sip, my taste buds dizzy themselves, trying frantically to identify the multitude of flavours washing over them. But failure to identify and define is not always a bad thing. In a way, a textbook definition would diminish the beauty and individualism of Chateau Rouge’s rooibos; half of its magic lies in its mystery, its elusiveness is a testament to its status in the tea world.

Of course, you won’t find such gourmet greatness on the supermarket shelves and nor should you expect to. With some blends costing up to £18.95, Chateau Rouge’s teas will lighten your purse but they’re sure to light up your life. Torn? For those of you who are stepping timidly into the world of luxurious teas, Chateau Rouge offers a sensible solution: each blend is available in small tins (costing a modest £3.95), allowing you to do your teasearch/research before you invest.

The moral of the story? Chateau Rouge Tea isn’t just a pretty face. Take away the fancy name, the posh packaging and the educated ethos and you are left with a product that is glorious in its own right. Quality and even quantity may come at a price, but for aspiring tea gurus across the land, Chateau Rouge is an essential endeavour.

@AlexisPerplexed The Tea Isle

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