rooibos & honeybush: herbs from south africa
Rooibos (ROY-boss) is an indigenous herb of South Africa that is made from the fine needle-like leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant. When the leaves are cut, bruised and oxidized, they become a reddish brown color, explaining why it was named rooibos or “red bush”.
Rooibos was discovered on Cedarberg Mountain around the turn of the 19th century, a region just north of Capetown. The bush was found growing wild on the mountain slopes. In 1904, Benjamin Ginsberg, a Russian immigrant from a family who had been in the tea industry for generations, began to sell this “Mountain Tea”. By 1930, Dr. P. Le Fras Nortier, a well-known doctor, had discovered the health benefits of rooibos and cultivation and production began in earnest.
Rooibos has been growing in popularity due to its refreshing taste and health benefits. It contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; rooibos also contains an anti-spasmodic that may help relieve digestive distress. African women enjoy rooibos during pregnancy because it is high in iron, low in tannins, contains no caffeine and can relieve heartburn and nausea. In addition, their babies are given rooibos to relieve symptoms of colic.
This unique and healthy drink is smooth, full-bodied and flavorful. It brews up a warm, reddish-brown color and has a slightly sweet, earthy flavor. Because of its mild, adaptable flavor, rooibos is commonly used as a base for caffeine-free blends.
South African Honeybush
Honeybush, a cousin of rooibos, is native to the Cape of South Africa. Since the early 1700s, this flavorful, nutrient-rich drink has been consumed in larger amounts than its well-known cousin, but very little is exported.
In the spring, honeybush has a bright yellow flower and is heavily honey-scented. Almost all honeybush is currently harvested from the wild and great care is taken to preserve its natural habitat.
This unique and healthy drink is tasty, full-bodied, and aromatic. It brews up a warm reddish-brown color and tastes herbaceous and slightly spicy with a sweet aftertaste.