Brought to you by Mazda
Setšong tea is so much more than just another local loose-leaf tea. Setšong, which means culture in Sepedi, is all about storytelling – an empowering tale steeped in culture, community and harmony – a unique story about the Bapedi people in Limpopo.
It’s this tale that makes Setšong Tea Crafters co-founder Retang Phaahla a perfect fit for Mazda’s Made With Soul campaign. Mazda searched high and low to find people who are driven by an innate sense of curiosity and who had a yearning to share their passion for their craft.
For Mazda, a car is far more than just a way to get from A to B. The beauty lies in the journey itself – and the vehicle that accompanies you along the way. This passion grounded in human-centricity, and the connection between the driver and the car, is known as Jinba-Ittai, and it’s one of the Japanese principles that drives the excellence Mazda has become known for.
As part of the Made With Soul campaign, Mazda delved even deeper into the Japanese principles that define the brand, and then went on a journey to find artisans and craftsmen whose values align with theirs. Retang and her mother, Nondumiso, felt a strong connection to the Japanese philosophy of kacho fugetsu.
“I related to the Japanese philosophy of kacho fugetsu, which is about how nature provides healing, food, a sense of balance and harmony within oneself,” said Retang. “From the first sip of a cup of tea, I get a sense of harmony, calm, meditation – an escape for that moment where it is just me and my brew of tea.”
Retang and Nondumiso are all about imparting a message of community and harmony through Setšong Tea Crafters.
“Community means being able to lean on the people around you regardless of whether you are biologically related or not,” says Retang.
Other than rooibos, the indigenous tea market is seemingly untapped, with all the amazing health benefits of other teas going largely unknown to communities across South Africa. Retang and Nondumiso strive to change that narrative.
Community is king
As business partners, Retang and Nondumiso complement each other well. With a history rich in community development, Nondumiso makes sure to always highlight the importance of community, while Retang focuses more on product development, market research and revenue generation.
Nondumiso’s immersive commitment to community development practices aim to bring communities together by shifting their focus to what they have, their natural assets and their economic potential.
On their journey, it soon became apparent that the indigenous knowledge systems and sustainable way of living central to the community’s livelihood are unique and should be seen as an asset to the community. Particularly interesting was indigenous knowledge related to food, and especially the herbs they were drinking.
“The first taste of the tepane black bush tea was completely life-changing,” says Retang of the sip that started it all and began the journey of highlighting the Bapedi sense of “community” by unlocking their unique indigenous knowledge systems. So began Setšong Tea Crafters.
The future is female
Setšong is both female-run and -owned, which promotes the importance of female empowerment; at heart, it is a community-run business. Many of the elders and community members make up the board and contribute to the success of the small local business. The business is rooted in empowering the Bapedi people and their close-knit community.
Today, Setšong produces eight artisanal tea blends, which include handcrafted infusions that highlight the indigenous African flora found in the natural landscapes of Limpopo, which pays homage to both the kacho fugetsu principles, as well as the Bapedi people and their unique way of life.
“Setšong is all about utilising the herbs and plants that nature provides and processing them in a way that really speaks to the senses, but more especially, a sense of pride that we’re honouring and promoting indigenous knowledge systems through every brew of tea,” says Retang.
Through empowering indigenous knowledge systems, honouring South Africa’s unique biodiversity and focusing on harmony and how nature heals all, Setšong shares a beautiful story of the Bapedi people and how important a sense of community is. The local business also showcases the importance of coming together to celebrate all indigenous resources in South Africa, which is best celebrated over a freshly brewed cup of tea, of course.
About Made With Soul
By connecting with the driver’s soul, each Mazda is more than just a combination of metal, leather and glass. Find out more about the #MadeWithSoul on the Mazda website.