Petalilli teas in the recycled building designed by Peta Searl

Herbal teas are becoming increasingly popular as health giving tonics and an alternative to caffeine-containing drinks. A wide range of different products is now available locally. Naturally Zimbabwean visited Peta Searle, the founder of Petalilli herbal teas, on her organic herb production and processing plant to find out what motivates her.

“The objective is to sell a product that takes into account the environmental impact of itself throughout its life span” Peta explains; and Petalilli products are grown and packaged and sold with this in mind. Peta uses a wide range of exotic herbs which she grows using organic, permaculture methods on the family farm. Currently the teas sold under the Petalilli label are Chamomile, Peppermint, Lemon Verbena, Rose Geranium, plus four blends: Lemon Zen, Healing Warrior, Clear the Clutter and Innocence. She told us that she is hoping to expand the range.

Peta (1901 x 1267)
Peta Searle in her organic garden surrounded by indigenous basil

We asked Peta why people should be drinking herbal teas. She feels that herbal teas drunk regularly along with a healthy diet will help to restore and maintain inner harmony and health. “Each herb has its own energetics and will stimulate a particular organic function. Peppermint for example is calmnitive which means that it relieves intestinal gas and promotes peristalsis, it also causes perspiration and strengthens the nervous system. By using herbs regularly, you are offering support and strength to your bodily systems” she said.

Peta lives and works by the seven generation sustainability principle which was first put forward by the Iroquois (a group of Native American tribes) to urge the white settlers to think about the impacts seven generations ahead (about 140 years into the future) when making decisions on how to act. Peta says: “My work and my actions are taking that into account and I feel good about it. Herbs offer humanity healing and a sense of well-being. A lot of what is sold today is for a quick fix, and I like that Petalilli teas are healthy not only for you but also for the planet.”

She went on “I think I am mindful and I put a lot of time and energy into making my business one that takes into account seven generation sustainability.  So the soil is cared for, the herbs are grown and harvested with love, they are processed by a local organic company, the packaging is all made locally and is biodegradable. I have been wanting to do iced tea, but can’t face the packaging- plastic or glass- becomes too complicated so I will leave to the reader to make their own ice tea at home.

We asked Peta what her dreams are for the future of Petalilli and we found out that she has big ideas. “We would like to be in a position to work with out-growers – offer a few farmers the opportunity to grow for us and learn more about organic farming methods. To do this we need to have secured a market. We would also like to be growing and using more indigenous herbs; to be a recognised brand; to have the funds as a corporate to support community compost making and worm farming.”

Recently Peta, along with friends (Jenny Van Niekirk and Dana Lister), has branched out into catering for festivals and events. She told us that she aims to provide “healthy, almost organic, (dishes) fusing some traditional foods with eastern spices, a little bit different, new and exciting”. She said that the peppermint, pomegranate and cardamon iced tea which she served at HIFA was very well received. “I loved offering it to people just to see their reaction”.

She and her friends have started trying to incorporate more indigenous products into their offerings including millet sprouts garnishing the rice paper wraps and baobab powder energy balls with spirulina, dates and sesame seeds. “I think the inspiration is celebrating food, diversity, and primarily the Earth that provides in such abundance”, she explains.

We look forward to hearing more about these products and hopefully getting some recipes.