Channan Sawhney and Anirban Mitra from Tata Global Beverages, India visit Rooibos Ltd

Tetley launched the Farmers First Hand initiative in 2011, following a commitment from Tetley that it would source all its tea, including Rooibos, from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms.

Channan Sawhney, Digital Marketing Manager, Tetley’s Farmers First Hand Campaign, together with Anirban Mitra, recently visited Rooibos Ltd in Clanwilliam, South Africa. They also visited the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Zeekoevlei Rooibos farm near Clanwilliam. The Farmers First Hand panel includes four workers from Zeekoevlei.

Commented Channan: “Clanwilliam is a beautiful town. It looks like a sleepy hollow but actually turned out to be one of the warmest towns I have been to in a long, long time. Rooibos Ltd’s national headquarters are based in Clanwilliam. We at Tetley source from there for some of our blends. We have been running an initiative called Tetley’s Farmers First Hand on Facebook since 2011. This initiative has over 150 000 fans from all over the world. During this initiative, we use social media to break down the barrier between the consumers that love their Tetley tea and the farmers who grow that tea.

When we visited Clanwilliam, we visited the factory which is extremely clean with state of the art processes and machines. The process runs smoothly, giving us our favorite cup of tea. The facility also runs a store where one can buy not only various blends of Rooibos but also Rooibos products like shampoos, cream and soap which were truly light and easy to use.

We also visited their Community Centre which was a brilliant experience since we saw how beautiful and well organised the farmer set-up was. There is a hall to carry out community activities. There is a child centre for kids coming back from school. There is a huge rugby field where they play games each Saturday as well as an amazing kitchen for the many delicious meals that they all have together as one family!

We had a truly delightful experience being there, and hope to go back soon!"

A panel of farmers uses mobile phones to send daily updates to Facebook. Fans of the Farmers First Hand page can then make comments and ask questions which are in turn sent back to the farmers for their response, enabling conversations on various topics. The panel also shares photos and videos for use on Facebook.

To join the page and chat to our Rooibos farmers, go to