#BrandFocus: Rooibos — the tea that’s not a tea
There are six floral kingdoms all over the world and fynbos is one of them. The fynbos Cape region is the only floral kingdom that is in one country. The other kingdoms span over countries and even some continents,” she adds.
According to Du Toit, out of the 15 000 tonnes of rooibos produced a year, 50% of it is consumed in South Africa. The biggest global markets are Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands, countries that already have a big tea-drinking culture and which are looking for new, ethnic teas to explore. These three make up approximately 70% of the remaining 50% exported from Clanwilliam in the Western Cape every year. This dry land crop can handle extreme weather conditions, from 50°C summers to wet winter nights that drop well below zero.
The South African Rooibos Council is an independent organisation charged with the task of promoting the health and wellness attributes of the product to consumers across the globe, with a primary mission of facilitating and supporting the relevant scientific research to back these claims. Du Toit says that, as a proudly South African product and one that grows nowhere else in the world, other than within a 100km radius of Clanwilliam, rooibos is a national treasure, and an affordable health solution for everybody.
Indigenous Khoisan groups in the Clanwilliam area had been preparing rooibos as a tea as far back as 300 years ago but the commercial history of rooibos dates back to the early Dutch settlers, who started drinking brewed rooibos as an alternative to the expensive black tea imported into Europe. Rooibos got its name in 1772 and the first person to export it was not a Dutch settler but rather a Russian Jewish immigrant, Benjamin Ginsberg, who discovered the potential of this unique ‘mountain tea’ in 1904.
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