Stellenbosch is famous for its wine farms and is home to some of the country’s billionaires, but it could soon become known for its own brand of rooibos tea.
Mokoena, 28, began his journey, an unusual one for Stellenbosch, when he was asked to find out more about the local tea, and the tea drinking habits of the town.
“There was a company that produced flavoured rooibos that asked me to do market research in the community. Upon doing that research, I discovered that people just purchase rooibos, and do not care about the brand. I figured that I can make tea bags for them at an affordable price,” he said.
Mokoena, who works as a cashier at a well-known pharmacy, then raised capital and started exploring different kinds of flavours to entice buyers, and in January got going with adding his personal touch to the brand.
This meant his own packaging design and brand name, Mavusana, which is his nickname that roughly translates into one who rebuilds.
He adds that Mavusana Premium Rooibos Tea is made from the finest rooibos plants which are carefully processed for optimal flavour.
Mokoena said the tea is popular for its perceived health benefits, as well as its refreshing taste, and is enjoyed by the young and old.
“It contains no caffeine and just a small amount of tannin. People drink it when looking for a hot beverage to avoid the caffeine of tea or coffee and the sugar of hot chocolate,” he said.
South Africa is the only country in the world where rooibos grows naturally, and countries like China, United Kingdom and the United States have tried to grow it, but failed, he said.
Researchers say the Khoisan people were the first people to discover rooibos in the 1700s, used it as a herbal tea and a remedy for minor illnesses. The Khoisan shared rooibos with early Dutch settlers, who renamed it rooibos.
“To this day people still rely on rooibos, and I am proud to be the owner of a product with such a rich history,” he said.
He and his friend Siyabulela Dase sell the tea door-to-door in Stellenbosch, notching up sales of up to 40 cartons a day. They can also courier tea to customers who live elsewhere.
Mokoena hopes to see his product on the shelves of big supermarkets in the near future.
“The support from my community ever since I started going door-to-door selling has been amazing. I see the company attracting investors and have the tea available in retail stores around the country. People from Stellenbosch have shown interest and are buying in their numbers,” he said.
One of his customers Nokhaya Makwa said it was important for them to support locally produced products.
“The taste is even better compared to the tea we buy from big retailers. This child, if he carries on with the spirit he has, is destined for success. People around the country, and not just here in Stellenbosch, should support him,” Makwa said.
Mokoena had a few words of encouragement for other young people wanting to venture out on their own.
“Start now, and start with what you have, the rest will follow later. The biggest challenge is to get the product onto shelves of big retailers, but that did not stop me, I started something,” he said.
Weekend Argus via IOL