You know you have entered the ‘Rooibos Country’ when you hear locals talk about the other kind of tea as ‘English tea’, or ‘shop tea’. The region is situated over 200 km north of Cape Town, where the winter rainfall area overlaps with the fynbos biome. Fynbos is the world’s smallest floral kingdom, and the only one belonging to a single country. Rooibos is grown only in deep sands and loamy soils, predominantly in the Sandveld, Cederberg range, Gifberg and the Suid Bokkeveld. The heartland of rooibos cultivation is the rugged mountainous areas on both sides of the Olifants River Valley and across the Cederberg range. The sun beats down mercilessly in summer, the temperature exceeds forty degrees, and winter nights are freezing.
The beginnings of the rooibos tea trade, one of the youngest tea industries in the world, were undistinguished. The beverage was presented as an alternative to the imported product from China and Ceylon. Not anymore as the alternative became a drink of choice, as the properties of this beverage, its history and its gentle, soothing influence on our body and soul. Rooibos is among the most popular herbal teas in the world and is an important export item for South Africa.
The Rooibos Story takes the reader through the rudiment beginnings of Rooibos as a commercial tea to a beverage enjoyed globally with health properties backed by ongoing scientific research.
* The Rooibos Story is partly based on the manuscript by Boris Gorelik entitled ‘The Rooibos Encyclopaedia’.