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Rooibos & Honeybush - OLD

Tea growing

Rooibos grows only in the remote Cedarberg Mountains several hours north of Cape Town – all attempts to grow it beyond this hot and rugged area have failed. While a relatively recent addition to the vast world of tea drinking, it is said that these Cape ‘bush teas’ were first documented in 1772 by the acclaimed Swedish botanist Carl Thunberg. He noted that "the country people made tea" from a plant related to wild rooibos and honeybush, which also grows in the botanically rich south-western Cape.

Tea making

Both rooibos and honeybush were pioneered by Dutch settlers who built their homesteads in the wild and isolated regions of the Cape, and had to learn how to make tea substitutes from the indigenous plants. By the 1900s, more recent settlers like Benjamin Ginsberg – a young Russian from a Moscow tea merchant family – refined the oxidisation and production process, employing similar methodologies to the processing of Chinese oolong and keemun teas. Once harvested, the needle-like tips of the bushes are heavily bruised, chopped and left to oxidise under the sun.

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