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Our Proud Heritage!

Happy Heritage Day South Africa, today we celebrate our rainbow nation and all the beautiful colors we find within. What better way to celebrate this day with a cup of our proud south African heritage, the Rooibos tea. Inside almost every second household has rooibos. It’s become somewhat of a staple beverage of ours.

This Proudly south African herb is grown vastly only in the Northern Cape regions and Cederberg Mountains of South Africa and is distributed all over the world. It’s delicious taste and numerous health benefits have earned it its place in the world.

Rooibos direct translation would be ‘red bush’, because of its rich red-brown colour when its mature. Its scientific name is Aspalathus linearis. For over centuries this herb was consumed by the Khoisan people who are recorded as the earliest inhabitants of the beautiful Country. They used it as an enjoyable beverage and most of all was used as a herbal remedy for many health issues. Unfortunately, there are no earlier records of the plants Khoi Khoi or San vernacular names. It is difficult to trace its tradition further back before the 19th century. But we know for a fact, this was a proud heritage starting by the Khoisan people and has been in their culture for the longest of periods.

In 1772, Carl Thunberg a Swedish botanist, reports on the indigenous people harvested this wild rooibos plants and used them for many different uses and its health properties. In fact, in the same year, this tea became popular with the Dutch settlers which came to the cape as it was easier to find and cheaper to consume compared to black tea in those days which had to be imported from Europe. The Dutch settlers were able to processes the with the different technics they knew such as oxidation. With their expertise and the knowledge of the Khoisan, it led to this beautiful rooibos we enjoy today.

Around 1903, a Russian settler and business, Benjamin Ginsberg, who had knowledge of the tea industry realised the potential this herb had in the tea industry and stated trading with the khokhoi and resold it as mountain tea (as in those days the khoi khoi would climb mountains to harvest this wild rooibos.) He sold it first to the cape settlers and then as well to other places. Thus he became one of the first exporters of the tea. He was popular known for the rooibos tea curing process, which is fermenting or sweating the tea. The herb was a success on the international market that by 1920, it was on high demand so much that the small scale harvesting could not keep up with the demand.

This led to a decade later in the 1930s, Ginseng teams up with a medical Doctor Le Fras Nortier, who was also a botanist and was the first to research and experiment the agricultural potential of rooibos. He mad ethe discovery that changed South African agriculture, when he found out that rooibos could be planted by scarification of the outer coat of the seed that could make the rooibos seeds germinate. This became a new ear for commercial farming of rooibos in order to supply for the demand of this mountain tea.

We fast-forward to today, Rooibos has gain this throne on the world market and is actually one of the main sources of income for towns like Clainwlliam . It is in almost every South African household as one of stable teas which we enjoy on a daily basis or enjoy it with visiting friends. It is also used for many home remedies in this society and known this tradition has broadly spread out throughout the world. Nowadays we even get flavoured rooibos which the herb is mixed with our herbs to come up with a beautiful taste. It also now used by the cosmetic industry as well for the skin. We believe in terms of rooibos potential and what it does for the South African nation, we are still just scratching the surface.

Happy heritage day!!!! Don’t forget to sit and enjoy a cup of rooibos tea before you go for the braai



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