Home to tea for almost 5,000 years, China is the cradle of the brew. Fairtrade farmer Barend Solomo was submerged in the Chinese tea culture during a two-month course at a famous tea college in Zhangzhou. The Tea Master training was sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
Barend is a producer at Wupperthal Original Rooibos Cooperative. His adventure started after South Africa's Ministry of Agriculture approached Fairtrade Africa to nominate a farmer to attend the college in October and November.
'It was hard work but I have learned a lot. I am a descendant of the indigenous Khoisan, one of the first tribes to start using rooibos as a herbal infusion. I gathered ideas on how we can promote our own tea culture and how this will improve the lives of families in our community.'
The curriculum covered a variety of subjects including tea food safety and hygiene, brewing tea skills, storage of tea food, tea and tourism. Barend also took part in the site visits and planted tea trees.
'If given a platform, I will promote the health benefits of tea and explain to farmers how they can add value to their tea business.'
But what was his biggest culture shock during his stay? 'They don't know the bible or what a church is!'