Honeybush Tea Processing

Several stages are involved in the processing of our Honeybush Tea 

Step 1


Labourers harvest the Honeybush Tea in one of two ways: pruning shears or sickles. The tea stems are tied up in bundles, weighed and taken to the processing facilities. The harvesting differs from species to species. Some Honeybush Tea is re-sprouters e.g. C. genistoides. C. genistoides is harvested close to the ground because it has a well developed route system that enables it to re-sprout within a few months. No re-planting is required. Other species e.g. C. subternata is a re-sower. This means that if the plant eventually dies off after approx 3-6 harvest cycles the plant needs to be replanted as it will not re-sprout like the C. genistoides does. This means that the C. subternata needs to be harvested differently to ensure enough leafy material is left on the bush for continuous growth after harvesting for a sustainable field.

Step 2


Following harvesting, the material is transported to our processing facility and is cut into 1-5 mm (approximation) pieces. The different cuts are not separated at this point in time. Up to this stage both the Fermented Tea and the Green Tea undergo the same process.

Step 3


Regular Fermented Honeybush Tea is made when the freshly chopped raw plant material is put into large stainless steel fermentation tanks. It is sometimes necessary to add pure fountain water to initiate the fermentation process inside these tanks. The tea is heated to ±70˚C and thermostatically monitored at this temperature for approximately 60-72 hours. Nothing else is added to this process and no run-off is produced during this process. During fermentation the colour of the plant material changes from green to brown. The fermentation tanks are rotated four times a day to ensure that the entire batch tea inside the tanks comes into contact with oxygen and turns a homogenous brown colour.

When a batch of Green Honeybush Tea is made it also gets chopped, but it is immediately dried in the greenhouses. Thus, the Green Honeybush Tea doesn’t undergo the fermentation process.

Step 4


After 60 hours have passed, the tea is taken out of the fermentation tanks and naturally dried in modified greenhouses.

From our first-hand experience

For the first 9 years of processing and drying Honeybush Tea, we sundried the tea on custom made drying beds. However, we were constantly looking for more effective ways to dry our tea as bad weather conditions were playing havoc with our attempts to process and dry our tea in the limited time available. Our production relied on good weather conditions, and if the weather would turn bad within 24-hours we had a problem getting our tea below 10% moisture in order for it to be bagged and tagged.

We overcame this problem by erecting our first 4 modified greenhouses in order for us to dry our tea naturally without having to rely on good weather. Come rain, sunshine or tremendously strong winds the processing and drying can continue.

Step 5


When both the Fermented and Green Teas are completely dried (<10% moisture) the tea is sieved into three different cuts: Tea Dust, Fine Cut and Coarse Cut.

These three cuts are sold in bulk form in 20 kg bags, but also in re-sealable pouches. The Tea Dust has been used for extracts in the cosmetic industry or special Honeybush Tea cappuccino drinks, whereas the Fine Cut is usually used for tea filter bags. The Coarse Cut Tea is usually sold as loose tea in pouches, ideal to be used on a tea pot or special tea strainer.

From our first-hand experience

We have been striving towards a processing model where no organic/natural waste is produced. In striving towards this model, we purchased a machine which could cut the too coarse tea into normal coarse cut tea. This ensures that no organic/natural waste is generated. The entire Honeybush Tea plant is used during our processing.