Rooibos – The Mythical National Drink of South Africa
It is often referred to as the South African miracle herb and associated with the mysterious Khoikhoi, the indigenous people of the region around Cape Town – we are talking about rooibos tea. Unlike green or black tea, rooibos is not extracted from the tea plant, but from the needle-shaped leaves of the redbush to which the tea owes its name. Free of tein and caffeine, rooibos can be enjoyed at any time of the day…
It is not surprising that we owe the first mention of redbush tea in the Western world to a botanist. The Swede Carl Peter Thunberg reported the preparation of a needle-leaf tea by the indigenous Khoikhoi people in the mountainous region north of Cape Town. In 1904, the Russian tea merchant Benjamin Ginsberg bought the tea of the Khoikhoi in order to bring it to the people in Cape Town. A short time later (1930), the tea plant was investigated by Dr. Petter le Fras Nortier for its health-promoting aspects and cultivated commercially.
Yellow Becomes Red
Translated from Afrikaans, the language of its homeland, rooibos means nothing other than “red bush” (rooi = “red”, bos = “bush”). But anyone who takes a look at the flowering shrub will not fail to notice its yellow color. After harvesting, which begins in January and continues into March, the leaves are pressed and begin to oxidize, giving rooibos its reddish color and sweet aroma. Just as with green tea, which omits the pressing and oxidizing steps, the untreated variety of rooibos can be enjoyed as green rooibos.
The tea is rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements such as potassium, copper, sodium, iron, fluorine, vitamin C, rutin, phenolic acid, etc. Its flavonoids have an antispasmodic effect on the intestinal muscles, which is why the tea is best for infant colic. Flavonoids are also said to have anti-aging and anti-cancer effects. The ingredients quercitin and quercitrin have a positive effect on the happiness hormone serotonin. Rooibos tea is therefore often consumed for depression, insomnia and headaches.
Your Tea for the Summer!
Rooibos is classically infused with fresh, bubbling boiling water, after which it should be left to steep for five to eight minutes, depending on taste. When using tea bags, care should be taken not to pour the boiling water directly onto the bag, as the sudden swelling could cause the tea bag to burst. With its fruity-sweet yet mild flavor, rooibos makes an excellent iced tea during the warmer months. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s go out on the terrace! Your tea for the summer!