What is Rooibos?

April 14, 2016


Rooibos is a broom-like member of the legume family of plants growing in South Africa's fynbos. The generic name comes from the plant Calicotome villosa, aspalathos in Greek. This plant has very similar growth and flowers to the rooibos plant. Wikipedia


Scientific name: Aspalathus linearis


Higher classification: Aspalathus


Rank: Species


Okay, that is the Wikipedia definition of this herb that is made into a brew that is very healthy for you.  So let’s get more into “What is Rooibos?”


What does it look like?


While it is steadily gaining popularity, delicious and nutritious rooibos tea is still relatively unknown to many tea drinkers worldwide. Part of the reason rooibos is still rare is that the plant from which it is harvested is grown only in a specific region in South Africa. But despite its low profile, rooibos tea history is interesting and full of surprises. Because rooibos tea is healthy and decaffeinated, it is making a real name for itself and should have a long future in the global tea market.


Rooibos Tea's shaky beginnings

Rooibos tea's history is rooted in the Cederberg region of beautiful South Africa. Khoisans, the indigenous Bushmen of the region, harvested the leaves from the Aspalathus Linearis plant for centuries. The leaves were used as herbal remedies for many ailments, and loved for their delicious taste.

Rooibos tea history nearly ended with the dwindling of the Khoisan tribes, but thankfully a botanist named Carl Humberg rediscovered the leaves in 1772 and revived a more widespread interest in the tea drink.


Then, in 1904 a Russian immigrant with ties to tea manufacturing, Benjamin Ginsberg, began marketing the drink as a "Mountain Tea," an herbal alternative to tea.




The Spread of Rooibos Tea

During World War II, when importing tea from Asian countries was nearly impossible, rooibos tea became an excellent alternative and was shipped around the world. Still, rooibos retailers were having problems due to the high price of rooibos seeds, which rose due to the plant's scarcity. Because of the high price, rooibos tea was still relatively difficult to buy and enjoy.

It wasn't until the late 1960s that rooibos tea history took an incredible turn. In 1968, Annique Theron (a South African mother) published a book on rooibos tea's amazing health benefits. After the book's release, hundreds of studies found more and more about rooibos tea's antioxidants and other health advantages. With this new medical understanding of rooibos, the tea's popularity exploded.

Modern Use

In recent years, rooibos tea history has shown that the tea will continue to be more esteemed and fashionable among tea enthusiasts worldwide, and this is due especially to many people's more health-conscious attitudes. In the past few years, demand for rooibos tea has increased by more than fifty percent. And though rooibos tea is most popular in African, Asian and European countries, its popularity is definitely spreading to the Americas and beyond. The more that's discovered about rooibos tea's health benefits, the more people want more of this delectable beverage.






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