Soccer fans attending the World Cup 2010 in South African may be introduced for the first time to a comforting cup of Rooibos tea (pronounced ‘roy-bos’ – Afrikans for red bush). Grown only in the Cederberg mountains of South Africa’s Western Cape, a semi-desert like geography, Rooibos is a wild shrub or herb that is naturally green. But after a fermentation process involving oxidation similar to that of black tea, it develops a red color and rich flavor.
Although consumed for centuries by the Khoisan Bushmen, botanist Carl Thunber in 1772 first mentioned that the indigenous people made a tea from Rooibos. Because of the expense associated with buying black tea from European supply ships sailing to South Africa, early Dutch settlers in the area adopted Rooibos. Later in 1904, a Russian immigrant Benjamin Ginsberg began experimenting with ways to cultivate and process the tea.
Soccer fans hitting local cafes in South Africa will certainly experience the popularity of Rooibos. Some people may also be familiar with Rooibos as it’s the favorite dink of Precious Ramotswe of ‘The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ novels. Experimentation with serving up the herbal tea has continued with the introduction of red espresso, a Rooibos tea espresso. Using traditional espresso brewing methods, including using steam and boiling water under pressure, a Rooibos based espresso beverage is produced.
Rooibos delivers a unique, full flavored taste experience that is both sweet and slightly nutty or woody. It provides tea makers with a good tea base that can be blended with other flavors, including bergamot or tropical fruit flavors. One of our most popular teas is Organic African Nectar, a blend of Rooibos, tropical fruits and flower blossoms.
Rooibos has become a favorite of many not only because of flavorful taste but its health benefits. High in antioxidants and caffeine-free, it’s a good alternative to coffee or other caffeinated beverages. Commonly fed to babies and children in South Africa, many believe the herb helps calm and soothe.