Rooibos – South African Bush Tea Goes Big But Threatened June 11 2014

The rooibos plant, Aspalathus linearis, is only found in a small region in the Western Cape province of South Aftrica. Dating back to the 17th century, European travelers noted, such as Swedish naturalist Carl Thunberg, that locals in this region made a tea from this rooibus, or “red bush”. Also known as “bush tea”, the needle like leaves of this member of the legume family were, for generations, picked, bundled for transport from hilltops, then chopped and dried in preparation for bush tea.

At the beginning of the 20th century a settler to the Cape decided to oxidize the leaves in the typical fashion, which gives the brew its red colour but also mimicked traditional Chinese methodologies of making a fine Keemun by fermenting the leaves in barrels.

Having no caffeine and seemingly soothing effects on the stomach, rooibos tea has often been prescribed for infantile colic. The popularity of rooibos has grown dramatically in the US just in the last 10 to 20 years. In fact, according to The Green Pharmacy, at the time of printing in 1997 rooibos could unfortunately be found in only selective herb stores. We, however, have it for you - today.

Rooibos is high in antioxidants, it’s another good bedtime favorite (it’s soothing) and also might be linked with the reduction of bad LDL cholesterol levels. So health benefits, and tastes great. Another great tea!

The future of the red bush however is in doubt. Because it is only found in the one small South African region and it seems not to grow in other regions on the planet, the threat due to climate change poses as threat to this plant. Increased temperatures and lessoning rainfalls have people worried. Certainly the cultivation industry is concerned but so too are those of us who don't wish to lose such a beneficial plant.