Another uniquely South African product, Rooibos Tea has its origins in the rugged Cederberg region of the Western Cape. In times gone by the people of the area discovered that the fine, needle-like leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant made a tasty, aromatic tea. The leaves and fine stems were chopped with axes and bruised with hammers before being left in heaps to ferment. Once fermented, the leaves and thin stems were spread out to dry in the hot African sun, ready for use as a thirst-quenching drink. Today, Rooibos is still processed in much the same way, but, of course, the methods are now mechanized and far more refined.
The tea was first marketed by Benjamin Ginsberg, a Russian immigrant and pioneer in the area, as early as 1904, and by 1930, when an amateur botanist, Dr P le Fras Nortier, discovered the secret of germinating Rooibos seeds, the market for this unique ‘mountain tea’ quickly expanded.
Rooibos’ popularity the world over can be linked to the many health benefits of the tea. Among others it is completely pure and natural as it contains no additives, preservatives or colorants, is naturally caffeine free and contains antioxidants that fight free radicals (a by-product of normal cell function), which weaken the body’s natural defenses and lead to ageing, the declining of the immune system and the onset of a wide variety of diseases.