Anton Louw (2000W) has had a varied career path. He’s been a winemaker, freelance journalist and environmental consultant, but for a while he’s known he wanted to start and build his own business. When his (now) wife took him to Nepal for a year while she worked a UN contract, he discovered tea. “Tea and wine have wonderful similarities – in how the flavours develop during production, how those flavours are then appraised, and then how they’re both appreciated – relaxing, usually in good company.
On returning, he had a new found appreciation for an old household staple – Rooibos. “It’s very rare to have a crop that is globally available, yet only grows in its indigenous homeland. We’re equally fortunate that industry is only around 100 years old, so there’s still amazing scope for innovation.” Using his wine background, he’s launched Sunbird Rooibos: sourced from selected farms in the Cederberg area and then kept separate to produce a range of premium single-origin Rooibos – the first to produce Rooibos along the lines of a high-end wine.
“Naturally starting a business for the first time is daunting, and there are many lessons to be learned along the way. I knew that using one’s network would be important, but it’s been interesting in how actively I’ve had to go into it. The OD union has actually been amazing in this. With an introduction, through a German friend – who was an exchange student here – I’ve managed to arrange my first international sale. I’m also looking to have the tea listed on Amazon through Nick Simpson, another OD who has started his own business looking into taking SA’s best food brands abroad through Amazon. The genesis of that was at the first OD Union Entrepreneurs meeting.”
Sunbird is available to taste at the Mitre. Please log onto www.sunbirdrooibos.com to find the growing list of stockists or make an order. If you’re looking for a fantastic Christmas or Year-end gift, the stylish packaging and fine tea makes will suit just about everyone.
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