A SPECIAL SOUTH AFRICAN TEA Dr Dawn Gould

Many, many years in the past the KHOI/SAN people found a local plant (Aspalathus linearis) suitable for eating but only after they managed to break the needle like leaves into pieces and then placed in the sun to dry.  As the settlers moved into the country this observation was observed.   The rooibos ( red bush)  tea  industry  would slowly but surely become a  valuable member of the economy.

Today the town of Clanwilliam, with the Cedar Berg mountains in the background , is well known for the rooibos tea industry.  At first the area was somewhat isolated but that changed in the 1960s when the national road to Namibia was tarred.   This enabled the caffeine free tea to become  more well known.

 But nothing is as easy as snapping fingers. Hard work has to be involved.  Entreprenurs set about marketing the special tea.  Local farmers began to be involved. The plant began to be studied and researched.  Seeds appears to have been difficult to find until, it is said, it was noticed that ants carried seeds out to their nests.   The nests were dug up and many seeds were found.    Of course science is more sophisticated these days.

When other types of tea – Ceylon tea – became difficult to obtain rooibos stepped into the  place.  Prices rose then unfortunately fell.  In 1954 a control board came into being to assist in its sales. 

In the beginning of the 21 century this tea is now known in many parts of the world.