As summer comes to an end, we can expect another wet and cold winter. It’s the time for chunky vegetable soup, hot chocolate and a South African favourite, Rooibos tea. We often turn to a steamy cup of Rooibos during the winter months as it’s packed with healthy nutrients. It works wonders for a head cold when a piece of bruised ginger and a slice of fresh lemon is added. When you sip on a nice cup of Rooibos tea, it feels as if the world could pass you by and you wouldn’t even realise it – it’s only you and your warm cup of love.
Rooibos tea is a popular tea not only in South Africa, but many people around the world have developed a taste for it. The Rooibos plant grows in the Cederberg region – a breathtakingly beautiful area, approximately 300 km north of Cape Town. Clean, fresh air, which is laced with the scent of orange blossom in Spring, mountainous landscapes and the most gorgeous sunsets add to the splendid grandeur of this district. Rooibos production flourishes in this region, making it a unique South African product.
The local people of the Cederberg were the first to notice the fine needle plants which belong to the Aspalathus Linearis – Rooibos plant. They discovered that this plant when fermented and dried made a delicious warm drink. The local people cut down the plant in heaps, the stems and leaves were bruised and left to ferment. Once the fermentation process was done, the leaves and stems were left to dry out in the hot sun. In 1904, a Russian immigrant by the name of Benjamin Ginsberg came from a family who had been in the tea industry in Europe. He was fond of the Rooibos plant and noticed that there was a great marketing potential. Ginsberg started trading the Rooibos plant from the locals. (Rooibos Ltd)
By 1930, a local medical doctor and botanist named Dr P le Fras Nortier had discovered a way of germinating the Rooibos seeds. Together with a commercial farmer, Olof Bergh, they came up with new cultivation methods and the Rooibos plant grew ever increasingly around the Cederberg Mountains.
It has become quite the popular trend to incorporate Rooibos in local cooking and chefs from well-known establishments all across South Africa develop interesting recipes to include this exceptional ingredient. From hearty stews to delicate salad dressings, Rooibos tea is even incorporated in desserts. Rooibos tea pairs well with fruit and its aromatic character is quite exceptional when paired with good quality chocolate.
Another trend which has taken the population by storm, is the use of Red Espresso in hot beverages. Lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites prepared with Red Espresso, which is the invention of Carl Pretorius and has the most exquisite taste, aroma and colour. It’s the equivalent of espresso, but made with Rooibos tea and does not contain caffeine. It has indeed taken off globally and is ever increasing in popularity.
Rooibos tea make the most amazing ice tea as it does not turn bitter as it steeps. There are quite a few brands of Rooibos ice tea available commercially these days, but it’s so easy to prepare a large jug of Cederberg goodness at home. Rooibos tea, chilled with an abundance of ice cubes and the addition of lemon and honey, makes a refreshing summers drink.
Rooibos tea is also used in an array of cosmetic and beauty products as it contains anti-aging properties. It’s a fantastic antioxidant and anti-bacterial remedy and many mothers make use of it to soothe baby rashes as it’s high in anti-allergic qualities.
Rooibos tea cultivation is booming in South Africa, but recent climate changes brought on by global warming, raises concern about threats to our red gold as there’s not been much success in farming it elsewhere.
The Cederberg area is not only a beautiful getaway destination, but also a giant pot of gold at the end of the world’s rainbow with its magnificent, one of a kind, fynbos shrub.
cederberg.com, n.d., The Cederberg, viewed on 16 April 2014, from http://www.cederberg.com/
Red Esprosso, n.d., A KITCHEN-BORN INNOVATION, viewed on 16 April 2014, from http://www.redespresso.com/about/
Image 1: Desnerck, P., n.d., Rooibos (Red bush) tea, viewed on 16 April 2014, from http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/rooibos-tea-high-res-stock-photography/135594930#
Image 2: Kirsten, D., n.d., Sandstone Rock Formations in the Cederberg, Ceres, Western Cape Province, South Africa, viewed on 16 April 2014, from http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/sandstone-rock-formations-in-the-cederberg-high-res-stock-photography/475156221#
Image 3: Red Espresso, n.d., Red Cappuccino, viewed on 16 April 2014, from www.redespresso.com/reddrinks/red-macchiato/
Image 4: Horsten, H., n.d., Rooibos Tea (Aspalathis linearis) crop in a field, Clanwilliam, Western Cape Province, South Africa, viewed on 16 April 2014, from http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/rooibos-tea-crop-in-a-field-clanwilliam-high-res-stock-photography/79588861#
Featured image: Nixon, A., n.d., Rainbow over valley and mountains, Krom River, Cederberg Mountains, Western Cape Province, South Afr, viewed on 16 April 2014, from http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/rainbow-over-valley-and-mountains-krom-river-royalty-free-image/91283225#