On 31 December 2018, as people all around the world prepared to welcome a new year, the residents of Wupperthal, South Africa, were in no position to celebrate.
On that day, a wildfire swept through the mountain village, causing widespread devastation. Only a handful of buildings were left standing, leaving over 200 people homeless.
Among those who lost their homes was Ingar Valentyn. Not only did the fire consume her childhood home, it also destroyed all of Wupperthal’s guest houses, which Ingar managed as part of her job at the tourism office.
Almost four years later, Wupperthal has rebuilt itself. In an effort to boost tourism and celebrate the resilience of her community, Ingar attempted to set a record for the most cups of tea made in one hour.
She chose to make rooibos tea, a red herbal tea that comes from the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis shrub, a plant native to South Africa. Wupperthal is renowned as the home of rooibos tea.
"Everyone lost everything," Ingar said, speaking about the fire.
"For me to attempt the record will open many doors for the community, in terms of tourism and in terms of the rooibos tea, because we have many rooibos tea farmers."
To achieve the record, Ingar had to make a minimum of 150 cups of tea within the hour. She was using three flavours of rooibos: original, vanilla and strawberry.
Ingar began the record attempt with a clear strategy in mind and executed it flawlessly.
She put four teabags in each teapot, which makes four cups of tea. To qualify as proper rooibos tea, each teabag needed to be steeped for at least two minutes. To maximize efficiency, as soon as Ingar poured the first three teapots and added in the teabags, she quickly moved onto the next batch.
One of our rules for all food-related records is that none must go to waste. To help Ingar comply with this requirement, she was assisted by an eager group of tea drinkers, comprised of local students and community members.
Before each cup was served, it was examined by official adjudicator Sofia Greenacre to ensure that it was filled to the minimum level of 142 ml (5 oz).
As an expert tea maker, Ingar got off to a flying start and maintained a strong pace. After just twenty minutes she had already poured 92 cups.
However, a problem soon emerged – she was almost out of clean cups. The local students once again came to Ingar’s aid by washing the many tea cups they’d drunk from!
As the hour drew to a close, Ingar was confident she had set the record. "I think I’ve done 170," she said.
Ingar far surpassed her prediction though, as it was revealed that she had made 249 cups of tea in total - over four per minute! Only one cup was disqualified for not being full enough.
"Ingar smashed the record, which was lovely to see, and Wupperthal has to be the most beautiful backdrop I’ve perhaps been on for a record attempt. I’m absolutely gobsmacked," said official adjudicator Sofia Greenacre.
"I’m very excited about the record and for our community of Wupperthal." – Ingar Valentyn
Ingar’s record attempt featured on episode four of Stumbo Record Breakers, which airs every Sunday on e.tv.