Rooibos (pronounced “roy-boss”) is an herb indigenous to South Africa’s mountainous region of Cederberg (just north of Cape Town), a mountainous, coastal area with plenty of winter rainfall and a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean. One of the most bio-diverse areas of the country, Cederberg is home to a World Heritage protected wildlife area, 500-million-year-old sandstone formations and a 6,000-year-old rock art legacy left by the San people, or Bushmen, who originally inhabited the area.
Locals have been harvesting and brewing the naturally growing rooibos in the Cederberg region for hundreds of years. South Africa is the only country in the world producing rooibos, with upwards of 450 growers who produce up to 15,000 tons of rooibos annually. It was the early tea-drinking Dutch settlers of South Africa who popularized the brewing of rooibos in the 1700s as an alternative to the more expensive, imported black tea of the time.
The health benefits of rooibos tea are abundant. Amongst them, it has been known to be high in antioxidants, boost the immune system, relieve hypertension, ease stomach cramps, improve skin conditions, and prevent premature aging.
Green rooibos is harvested from the same South African plant as the traditional red rooibos but is processed differently. The green rooibos leaves are lightly steamed to prevent oxidation, leaving them closer to their natural state.