The original tea is made from corn (maize) silk. Yes, that silky thing farmers often throw away—it is great! At this point, we are happy to say the famous National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub’s Corn Silk tea has just recieved a new refreshing taste of ginger and lemon—yet the original version with the original taste is still there.
The tea is the product of Ms Joalane Mohale from the NUL Innovation Hub.
It is true that many people drink this tea, “for the love of it” as the say. For good reasons. The processing of the tea gives an aroma and taste that you haven’t quite experienced before.
But this tea is more than just a tea. It is the taste that eases your pains. “Some uses it to ease arthritis, period pains and stress, and many other ailments,” Joalane said.
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Let’s get into a bit of a backrgound behind the magnificent corn silk tea. According to the legend, not maize but sorghum was part of Basotho’s staple diet in the good old days. However, once it was introduced into their daily lives, Basotho embraced maize in all its forms, white and yellow, to the point that it has replaced sorghum as Basotho’s darling especially as a staple food. Sorgum is still putting a tough fight in other uses such a alchoholic and sour beverages.
In fact the Innovation Hub itself is redicovering sorghum for its uses in sorhgum biscuits, muelie, breads and even motoho.
Now Basotho’s love affair with maize is not limited to its use in the famous papa (which seems to be the prefered dish of the Africa, South of the South of the Sahara). They have used maize for such things a “mochahlama,” “lipolokoe,” “macheshisa,” “‘maleboti,” “lipabi,” “likhobe,” the list goes on.
Not only that, they have used to the best possible, all other components of the maize plant, including the corn corb (seqo) for heating and the corn stover (lithlaka) both for heating but mainly as animal feed. Some ingenious farmers have also used the stover as manure.
But for some mysterious reasons, there is one part of the plant that Basotho have always shied away from. We are talking about the corn silk.
Well, “our research reveals that a very limited number of Basotho have always known about its healing properties,” Joalane said. But it would appear that whatever health benefits of the product, they were largely a closely guarded secret.
Now, Joalane has come in and she is spilling the beans.
After researching about and examining the amazing properites of cornsilk , she did not waste a lot of time. She started laying the groundwork for manufacturing the tea.
That was not going to be easy.
Manufacturing is hard.
It doesn’t matter what it is you are manufacturing.
But she did it anyway. That involved her going around the country and convincing farmers not to throw away or even burn the cornsilk. Many were willing to assist. So she started doing her tests and improving on packaging up to where she is today.
“We are at the point where we no longer go to farmers. Rather we have created an interesting chain. We buy from collectors who, apparently, work as middlemen between ourselves and the farmers. The farmers produce, the collectors collect and deliver to us and we process, package and sell.”
It is a value chain in action.
Think about this for a second.
If we are to improve this value chain, we might as well build a “maize economy” where farmers do not just grow maize for papa but also for tea! There is a great likelihood that tea enthusiasts worldwide might just be waiting for the best moment to enjoy the delicacies from the Kingdom in the Sky!
Now the second version of the tea is up for release. It has a ginger and lemon flavour. Apparently, these two are adding to the “tons” of the mighty Vitamin C which the cornsilk already has.
So when you buy this tea, you are not just doing yourself a favour, actually, you are contributing to the development of the product that is grown so abundantly in Lesotho. You are helping to create jobs. And you are getting the finest taste you can get, in the process, and as a bonus.
So what’s the next step?
“We are at the point where we are eyeing local pharmacies to sell the product as a suppliment,” she said. “Actually, we are rebrading and aiming at a wider reach so we increase our sales.”
(Join PhuthaLichaba from the NUL Innovation Hub, the future bank of the People here: www.phuthalichaba.com/register)