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Mzansi Organic Teas & Les Jardins de Gaia

Mzansi Organic Teas operates in Johannesburg and distributes the high quality fairtrade and organic teas of French organisation Les Jardins de Gaia.

Johannesburg, Gauteng

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French organisation focused on fairtrade tea

Aurélie has been involved in fairtrade work since the late 1990s as part of French organisation Les Jardins de Gaia. The organisation focuses on improving conditions for workers in the tea industry and this focus has taken Aurélie to a number of projects in places like Darjeeling and China. However, when she came to South Africa a few years ago, she fell in love with the landscape and the country.

A shift back to loose leaf tea

She now lives here and distributes thirty of Les Jardins de Gaia’s high quality organic and fairtrade tea as Mzansi Organic Tea along with her partner Alex in Johannesburg. The teas are all loose leaf, says Aurélie: “In Europe the tea bag is losing its grip. Loose tea is superior because the leaves are not cut or broken. Tea bags contain tea dust and chopped up low quality product. Loose tea is less bitter and has much better flavour.”

Fairtrade rooibos tea in South Africa

Les Jardins de Gaia also has some rooibos and honeybush products. Fairtrade have done extensive work with small farmers in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape - the endemic home of the rooibos bush. The Wupperthal Original Rooibos Cooperative (WORC) was started in 2009 by 53 rooibos farmers and now counts just over 90 members. They cultivate plots of land, some as small as a tennis court, which they rent from the Moravian church that owns the 36 000 hectares surrounding the village. Managing director Barend Salomo says that although rooibos has been cultivated in the area for decades, selling the product on the general market barely covered the farmers’ expenses. “Sometimes I think it was only the love of rooibos among these people that kept them going, because it wasn't really commercially viable,” explains Salomo. ”But when we changed to Fairtrade, everything changed in Wupperthal.”

Aurélie is very enthusiastic about WORC and fairtrade in general. “The tea from small producers is always of a better quality and taste,” she proclaims. “And the people are proud of their products. They always want to know whether customers liked their tea.”

Mzansi Organic Tea operates at Bryanston Organic Market and Market on Main, both in Johannesburg. You can also follow them on Facebook.


Les Jardins de Gaia's tea map of the world


Aurélie showing off a couple of the products she and ALex sell in Johannesburg as Mzansi Organic Tea


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