HISTORY

 

Rooibos naturally grow in the mountain regions of the Western Cape province of South Africa. Traditionally, the Bushmen (the local people) would climb the mountains to harvest leaves of wild Rooibos plants. After chopping and bruising the plants, they will dry the leaves in the sun. This practice passed on from generations to generations and the Rooibos were only known within the region of Western Cape until European travelers visited the area around the 17th century CE. 

 

In the 1930s, Rooibos was successfully cultivated for the first time by a Russian settler, Benjamin Ginsberg, who gained support from local doctor and Rhodes scholar, Dr. Le Fras Nortier. Today the only Rooibos tea farms are located at the Cederberg Mountains, the only place on earth with suitable geography and climate for planting Rooibos. [2]

 

In the previous decades, Rooibos has grown in popularity not merely in South Africa, but also in the worldwide market. Annual exports of rooibos have quadrupled in the last 13 years. More brand-name tea companies sell this tea and introducing blends like Rooibos Chai, Rooibos Earl Grey, etc. These tea companies include Starbucks, Lipton, Twinings, and Numi.

 

Unfortunately, due to climate change and increasing extreme weathers in Western Cape during the last decade, Rooibos may extinct within the next century, according to article “Climate Change Threatens Rooibos” by News24. [3]

Rooibos Tea after Fermentation

Photo by André Helbig / CC BY

Rooibos Plants

Photo by Winfried Bruenken / CC BY

A Cup of Vanilla Rooibos Tea

Photo by jenosaur / CC BY

Bushmen, the local people living in Southern Africa

Photo by Ian Beatty / CC BY

Twinings Rooibos Tea

Photo by mr_t_in_dc / CC BY

HEALTH 

 

One of the reasons why Rooibos is becoming more popular in Western countries is its numerous health benefits. According to “10 Amazing Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea” by Healthy life, Rooibos tea is: [4]

 

- Caffeine free

- Containing powerful antioxidants

- Preventing against some cancers

- Contain high mineral content

- Improving circulation

- Relieves stomach complaints for both adults and infants

- Aids absorption of iron

- Can relieve skin conditions

- Can protect against Perkinsons/Alzheimers disease

- Encourages restful sleep

 

Other than those benefits above, Rooibos has lower tannin levels compared to fully oxidized black tea or unoxidized green tea leaves. [5] From “Health Benefits of Red Rooibos Tea” by Organic Facts, it listed out more benefits of Rooibos:

 

- Relieve stress and hypertension

- Balance Blood Sugar

- Protect against developing type II Diabetes

- Treat allergies like eczema or hay fever

-  Premature aging 

 

**However, Rooibos tea is not for everyone because it may interfere with other medication or treatments. It could also be harmful to drink Rooibos if having breast cancer, kidney, or liver problems. It is best to speak to your doctor before consuming Rooibos tea. [6]

 

PREPARATION

 

  • For each cup of Rooibos tea, add 1 teaspoon of Rooibos tea leave.

  • Add boiling water (around 206 degree F or 96 C) to the tea leaves. 

  • Add milk and sugar to taste

  • Note: Add a slice of lemon or using honey instead of sugar to sweeten.

OTHER NAMES: Bush Tea, Rooibosch (in old Dutch)

 

Rooibos means "red bush" in Afrikaans. The Rooibos plant is actually earthy green when harvested, but Rooibos or "red bush" got its name after fermentation of the plant, which turns to a deep auburn. Rooibos is an herbal tea that has been popular in Southern Africa for generations. Because of its health benefits as well as its refreshing taste, Rooibos has become a trendy drink in many countries.[1]

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