ROOIBOS AND HONEYBUSH TEA GUIDE

Rooibos Organic

Rooibos(also known as Red Bush) tea has a distinctive deep red infusion and its taste is naturally sweet and slightly nutty. It’s delicious taste and numerous healthful qualities has helped Rooibos become a popular tea all over the world. It is still fairly 'new' but more and more people are coming to love this unique red tea.

Rooibos has no caffeine and is low in tannin, so it can be enjoyed all day long without any unpleasant side effects. This also makes it a great tea for pregnant women and nursing mothers. It is high in antioxidants and minerals, giving it anticancer and antispasmodic properties.

Technically, Rooibos is not a true tea. It comes from the plant Aspalathus linearis. The name Rooibos comes from the Afrikaans word for 'red bush'. The Rooibos plant is a small shrubby bush that only grows in South Africa. The bush grows anywhere from 2 to 3 feet in height, with very thin, needle-like leaves. The leaves are green, but turn the characteristic red after oxidation. Rooibos is also known as bush tea (esp. Southern Africa), redbush tea (esp. UK), South African red tea, or red tea.

Rooibos is grown only in a small area in the region of the Western Cape province of South Africa. The Rooibos seeds are precious, because the plants produce few of them. The seeds also pop out of the fruits as soon as they are ripe, making harvest difficult. Many farmers still raid anthills looking for Rooibos seeds. It is a rather delicate plant, and the cultivation has not changed much over the years. The plants thrive best when left alone in their natural soil. The farming of Rooibos has always been very close to nature and remains so today.

Health Benefits

The increasing popularity of rooibos tea can be attributed in part to its many health benefits. It lacks caffeine, and it has low tannin levels compared to black and green tea, making it a popular alternative to tea.

Protect Against Cancer, Minimize Aging - Rooibos tea contains many antioxidants , such as aspalathin and nothofagin, as well as phenolic compounds: including flavanols, flavones, flavanones, and dihydrochalcones. These compounds have been shown to increase the productivity of carcinogen-detoxifying enzymes, as well as protect cell proteins, cell fats, and DNA from mutation.

Immunity Boost – A high level of antioxidants and minerals in rooibos tea helps repair and maintain the immune system. Minerals include copper, iron, potassium, calcium, fluoride, zinc, sodium, manganese, and magnesium

Reduction of insomnia, tension, headaches and irritability – Rooibos effectively replaces caffeinated green and black tea as a nighttime beverage. As a result, the body is able to maintain its natural circadian rhythm, allowing for a full night’s rest. This helps prevent the onset of sleep deprivation symptoms, such as headache, irritability, tension, malaise.

Stronger bones and teeth - Manganese, fluoride and calcium in rooibos tea promotes bone health.

Relief from colic and stomach cramps - Rooibos is a natural anti-spasmodic agent, which relieves stomach cramps and lessens colic in infants. In South Africa, Rooibos has been used for generations as a supplement to breast-milk. A rooibos infusion with milk will stop stomach pain and help babies sleep easily.

Stem Dessert Cravings – Our Belgian Chocolate Rooibos, and Chocolate Cake Honeybush teas make excellent dessert substitutes, with all the flavor of sweets and none of the calories.

Honeybush

Honeybush is a cousin of Rooibos, cultivated in South Africa's Eastern Cape region. Its flowers smell of honey, which gives this plant it’s sweet name. The taste of honeybush tea is similar to that of rooibos, though slightly sweeter with a fully body. Like Rooibos, it is caffeine free. Add a little honey to honeybush to really bring out the natural sweetness.

Honeybush has been used for treating coughs, because of its content of pinotol (found in Pine trees) which is an expectorant. Pinitol has also been shown to lower blood sugar in laboratory animal studies and is being considered as a drug for diabetes. Honeybush also contains flavones which can be used to reduce blood lipids and alleviate menopausal symptoms.

Brewing Methods

Rooibos and honeybush are brewed like many herbal blends. They are excellent both hot or iced:

Hot tea brewing method: Heat water to 212°F. Place 1 heaping teaspoon per 6 ounce cup and let the tea steep for 5 -7 minutes. Resteep until the tea flavor is exhausted.

Iced tea brewing method: Heat water to 212°F. Place 1 heaping teaspoon per 6 ounce cup and let the tea steep for 5 - 7 minutes. Remove tea leaves and add ice. Georgia Peach Rooibos, Lemon Chiffon Rooibos, and Apricot Almond Rooibos make excellent iced teas.

History

Through the 17th and 18th centuries, European travellers and botanists visiting the Cederberg region in South Africa commented on the profusion of "good plants" for curative purposes. In 1772, Swedish naturalist Carl Thunberg noted that "the country people made tea" from a plant related to rooibos or redbush.

Traditionally, the local people would climb the mountains and cut the fine needle-like leaves from wild rooibos plants. They then rolled the bunches of leaves into hessian bags and brought them down the steep slopes on the backs of donkeys. The leaves were then chopped with axes and bruised with hammers, before being left to dry in the sun.

The Dutch settlers to the Cape developed rooibos as an alternative to black tea, an expensive commodity for the settlers who relied on supply ships from Europe.

In 1904, Benjamin Ginsberg, a Russian/Jewish settler to the Cape, riding in the remote mountains, became fascinated with this wild tea. He ran a wide variety of experiments at Rondegat Farm, finally perfecting the curing of rooibos. He simulated the traditional Chinese method of making very fine Keemun, by fermenting the tea in barrels, covered in wet, hessian sacking that replicates the effects of bamboo baskets.

In the 1930s, Ginsberg persuaded local doctor and Rhodes scholar Dr. Le Fras Nortier to experiment with cultivation of the plant. Le Fras Nortier cultivated the first plants at Clanwilliam on the Klein Kliphuis farm. The tiny seeds were difficult to obtain, as they dispersed as soon as the pods cracked, and would not germinate without scarifying. Le Fras Nortier paid the local "volk", some of whom were his patients, to collect seeds. An aged Khoi woman came again and again, receiving a shilling for each matchbox filled with seed. She had found an unusual seed source: having chanced upon ants dragging seed, she followed them back to their nest and, on breaking it open, found a granary. The attempts by Dr. le Fras Nortier were ultimately successful, which led Ginsberg to encourage local farmers to cultivate the plant in the hope that it would become a profitable venture. Klein Kliphuis became a tea farm, and within ten years the price of seeds soared to an astounding £80 a pound, the most expensive vegetable seed in the world. Today the seed is gathered by special sifting processes, and Klein Kliphuis is now a guest farm.

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