A little History
Rooibos tea ( which means Redbush) is to South Africa what maple syrup is to Canada: a unique and feel-good tradition. It is absolutely unique to South Africa and is grown in its natural state NOWHERE else in the world - only on the very southern tip of Africa! Incidentally, "Rooibos" is pronounced "roy-boss" and means "Red Bush" in the Afrikaans language.
Rooibos tea was discovered by the Bushmen who inhabited the Cederberg region of South Africa before the white and black men came to Southern Africa. They were excellent hunters and very knowledgeable about the uses of different plants and found that the fine, needle-like leaves of the "Aspalathus Linearis" herb made a tasty, aromatic tea. It was they who first harvested the wild-growing plants, chopped them with axes and then bruised them with hammers, leaving them to ferment in heaps, before drying them in the sun. Today Rooibos is still processed in much the same way, but of course the methods are certainly more mechanized and refined!
Initially Rooibos tea was used by the settlers as a cheap substitute for black tea, especially since black tea was very expensive in those days and Rooibos tasted much the same. In 1904, Benjamin Ginsberg, a Russian immigrant and trader, became interested in Rooibos and realized its potential. He started trading with the mountain people and selling it to Europeans. Ginsberg who was descended from a family who had been in the tea industry in Europe for centuries had good contacts and became the first exporter of Rooibos.
Since that time, the industry has made steady progress, refining its production methods and increasing distribution so that the unique taste of Rooibos tea may today be enjoyed by people the world over. The tea is very well know in Germany and western Europe but is also becoming very popular in Japan and Malaysia where the remarkable properties of this tea are currently being researched. Rooibos is totally pure and natural. It contains no colorants or preservatives is extremly low in tannin and contains no oxalic acid.
What about Caffeine?
Rooibos is caffeine free. In recent years, there has been a move away from the stimulating effects of caffeine, the main alkaloid found in tea and coffee. High doses of caffeine, a powerful stimulant of the human central nervous system and the cardiovascular system, can cause loss of sleep, anxiety, tremors and abnormally rapid heart action. Caffeine occurs in the seeds of the coffee plant (I to 2%), the kola plant (I to 3%) and in tea leaves (2 to 4%). It is also found in two South American stimulants which are used in the so called "rave" culture, the leaves of mate and the seeds of guarana.
Rooibos contains several minerals including Calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and sodium, as well as trace elements such as copper, manganese and fluoride.
Tea sites of interest
If you are interested in learning more about other teas including green tea you might like to visit: Green Tea
The statements and articles made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada or any other Government Agency. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems.
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