Kim Koen, owner of MY RED TEA, a great woman, with a grand mission to make Rooibos tea better known, ethically grown and also something which gives back to the community.
Teen Sublime: What is the inspiration behind starting up My Red Tea?
Kim Koen: I’m a massive Rooibos fan, not just because I grew up with it in South Africa and it reminds me of home, but also because of the incredible health benefits it provides to the whole family – from baby to granny. Inside and out.
Organic, sustainable, ethically farmed products and practices that truly deliver on health and wellness are what MY RED TEA is all about. I created MY RED TEA to incorporate you, it’s your red tea, your health and your well being. It also belongs to the farmers and farm workers, it’s their red tea too and they’re proud of it. 10% of our profits support education and culture within our Rooibos farming communities.
TS: What sets your product apart from the rest of the tea industry?
KK: We know and visit our farmers annually, we know the exact spot our tea is harvested from and we know the people who harvest and package our tea. We know that the tea is 100% organic, that the way in which the farm runs is ethical and sustainable.
We’re very careful to pick suppliers who support our values and care just as much about our world and its inhabitants as we do. We strive to use packaging and processes that have the least impact on the environment. We selected a packaging supplier who is Forest Stewardship Council® certified, meaning they are committed to providing packaging solutions that are environmentally responsible. In 2015, our packaging supplier recycled 399 tons of material. Our tea boxes are made from recyclable material and our loose leaf tea pouch is made from 60% renewable wood pulp that disintegrates into beneficial compost over 84 days in a garden composting environment.
We are truly authentic. I know that’s a “BS” term that is thrown around all too often, but we truly care about our mission, we believe in the tea and the benefits of it but also, and most importantly, we want to give back to an area of South Africa that truly needs more investment in education and after-school programs for the children of farm workers. And the better we do, the more we can donate.
TS: What is the power of Rooibos?
KK: South Africans use Rooibos in everything, seriously, not just because of its versatility and great nutty flavour, but for its many health benefits:
- Naturally caffeine free, Rooibos can be enjoyed at any age and at any time of the day.
- Incredibly high in antioxidants and vitamins, Rooibos packs a punch in a mild and delicious flavour.
- Rooibos tea is rich in many minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, zinc, magnesium, and alpha hydroxy acid.
- Rooibos contains polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimutagenic qualities.
- An excellent alternative to juice or other sugary drinks.
TS: Are you planning on expanding your brand?
KK: We have a box of 80 unbleached tagless teabags, a box of 160 unbleached tagless teabags and a 340g pouch of loose leaf tea. All organic, all sustainably and ethically farmed. In November we will be launching our box of 34 tagged, individually wrapped tea bags.
TS: What makes you most proud of your tea?
KK: We ensure that we produce only the highest quality, purest Rooibos tea. Grown high up in the Cederberg mountains, our Rooibos grows in drought-like conditions ensuring slow growth, the slower the growth, the better the flavour and intensity of the tea. We say what we mean, whats on the box, we are truly engaged in the process of our tea – from seed to sip – and are fully engaged every step of the way. We have partnered with farmers and suppliers who care as much about the world and its inhabitants as we do, that we are ethical and sustainable and that we are truly committed to giving back to the Rooibos farming communities.
TS: How do you create change and impact the world through the production of your tea?
KK: We are a small company with a big heart and big dreams, but we also realize that even the smallest contribution towards the environment or the farm workers is just as important to that one program or person as it is to millions.
TS: What’s your relationship like with your farmers?
KK: We work exclusively with a family run operation and have the highest respect for what they do. From Dad to Mom to their daughter and sons, they are with us every step of the way, they care about the land and their workers which is incredibly important to us.
TS: Tell us more about your giving back programs. Who do you give back to? What do you give back?
KK: We are committed to giving back 10% of our profits to support education and culture within the farming communities. We made our first donation to a school for farmworkers in September 2016. In March 2017, we began our partnership with, Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers Riel, an after-school dance troupe for teenagers in the Clanwilliam area of the Western Cape. A lot of Rooibos farm workers use donkeys for transportation, we decided to adopt our first retired working donkey named Ziggy who will live out her days at an incredible sanctuary in the Clanwilliam area.
Most recently, we partnered with Creative Works, an incredible organization that promotes a nurturing, safe and stimulating environment for children and young adults to explore their creative potential.
If you are interested in purchasing My RED TEA head to myredtea.com