Sometimes known as bush tea or red tea, Rooibos is a naturally caffeine free herb steeped for its refreshing taste. Since it is caffeine free, not simply decaffeinated, it’s a great afternoon alternative for those sensitive to caffeine.
Often described as having an earthy taste, some find hints of vanilla, caramel, and other tastes. Many people enjoy it straight, in blends, or with milk and sugar. Rooibos is often used as a base in flavored teas as well.
Want to know more? Learn more about rooibos, where it comes from, and the many blends it provides.
South African Rooibos
The scientific name for rooibos, which comes from Afrikaans meaning “red bush”, is Aspalathus Linearis. Coming from the legume family, rooibos is related to beans, peas, clover, and peanuts, though the family also includes over 16,000 other species. It is a shrub that grows up to 6’ in height with green, needle shaped leaves and yellow flowers.
Rooibos is only grown in one location in the world, the valleys of the Cederberg Mountain region of Western Cape, South Africa, to the north of Cape Town. Rooibos has been consumed by local Khoisan inhabitants for more than 300 years. The arriving Dutch settlers to South Africa in the 1700’s started to consume rooibos due to the high cost of imported black tea. Commercial production began in the 1930’s and more recently its anti-oxidant properties have attracted significant demand, initially from Japan but now from many other countries as well. In fact, exports have increased over 700% from 1993 to 2003.
The specific region where rooibos is grown recently was designated a World Heritage Site, yet the majority of land is privately owned, so the need for responsible land use and development practices has driven the South African Rooibos Council to develop Right Rooibos, a program to foster sustainable production practices for the industry and support production while protecting the environment.