Sekhukhune Indigenous Tea Titillate Taste Buds of Russians, Brewer Delight Their Eyes

The exhibition stand of the Limpopo-based Setšong Indigenous Tea Crafters has been the centre of attraction at the World Food Moscow, a four-day international food and drinks trade exhibition that ends in the Russian capital today. Throngs of visitors descended to the crafters’ stand where they have been awed by the taste of the tea, and wowed by the colourful traditional attire of the founder of the company, Ms Nondumiso Phaahla.

Phaahla is one of the more than thirty South African businesspeople who have been funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) to showcase their products at the popular exhibition.

Setšong produces handcrafted tea products that are crafted from wild harvested, indigenous trees found in the natural landscapes of Sekhukhune in Limpopo.

“I have been amazed by the attention that our stand has been receiving here. There are three things that have captured the imagination of the visitors from the first day. The first are the traditional garments that I have worn every day and that make me stand out from the rest of the exhibitors. This has resulted in hordes of visitors requesting to take photos of me or with me. Secondly, their taste buds were tantalised by our organic tea which meticulously infused with a variety of blends, and lastly, they were astounded by the enchanting story of the origin of the tea which have been consumed for generations by the Bapedi in Sekhukhune which results in a great deal of heritage and history being associated with all of our teas,” says Phaahla.

Phaahla says she was overwhelmed by the attention that her products, that are produced in inconspicuous villages of Ga-Matlala Ramoshibo and Ga-Phaahla, near Marble Hall, are receiving in Russia. It is her first international exhibition and hopes the numerous leads that she generated will bear fruits so she can export her tea to various countries, particularly Russia.

“Several Russian companies showed keen interest in doing business with us. A representative of one of the Russian companies that distributes tea throughout the world showed me a list of countries from where he sources tea. And South Africa was not appearing on the list and he promised to source our tea and distribute it to other countries. This has inspired us greatly as it will provide us with an opportunity to grow our business, increase production and create more jobs back home,” says Phaahla.

She adds that she is happy that government entities such as the Agricultural Research Council are coming on board to ensure the sustainability of her company through controlled replanting and promulgation of the trees from whose leaves and roots the tea is produced.

“Our company was established with a merger of three women-owned cooperatives and we are currently employing 27 people, the majority of whom are women. We are excited about the fact that if the interest shown by various companies in our products in Russia is anything to go, then it will not take long before we start exporting, which will require us to produce large volumes,” adds Phaahla.

She also says her and other women in her company will be proud to export the rich Bapedi ancestral story to other parts of the world.

“It will be an honour for us use the indigenous trees to for a commercial venture that will change the lives of the communities of Sekhukhune by creating employing and eradicating poverty,” she states

The founder of Setšong Indigenous Tea Crafters, Ms Nondumiso Phaahla serving tea to World Food Moscow International Trade Fair visitors at her exhibition stand.

Mr Sidwell Medupe – Departmental Spokesperson
Tel : (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Follow us on Twitter: @the_dti

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