The history of
Tick Tock Tea

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1700 - 1880

1. At the heart of
The Tea Trade

Rooibos’s roots lie in 18th century Cape Town, a bustling port at the heart of the tea trade routes between Europe and China. Tea drinking was expensive for early Dutch settlers, and soon rough ‘bush teas’ made from indigenous plants became popular substitutes. In 1772, botanist Carl Thunberg noted that ‘the country people made tea’ from a type of wild Rooibos.

1890 — 1920

2. GRANDFATHER
BENJAMIN GINSBERG,
ROOIBOS FOUNDER

When Benjamin Ginsberg, a pioneering young man from a tea merchant family, arrived in the Cape’s Cederberg Mountains in 1903, he became fascinated with Rooibos’s potential. By applying traditional ancient Chinese tea curing techniques to the wild plant, he brought out the best of its taste and colour. As a mark of quality, he sold his tea in small packets, rather than loose from the customary chests or bags.

1920 — 1940

PLANTING THE FIRST
ROOIBOS FARMS

Growing demand for Rooibos soon exhausted the limited availability of the wild plant. And so in 1930, Benjamin encouraged his friends, Dr Le Fras Nortier and Olaf Bergh, to experiment with propagating the never before cultivated Rooibos seeds. In 1944, Benjamin’s son, Henry Charles, laid out the first dedicated Rooibos plantations, scaling it for the first time into an agricultural crop.

1944 — 1976

HENRY CHARLES
PUTS ROOIBOS
ON THE MAP

Under the guidance of Henry Charles Ginsberg, Rooibos was transformed from a niche item sold in country stores to a widely available product with a national following. The family’s Eleven O’Clock brand flourished as South Africa’s best-selling Rooibos Tea. Henry Charles also began exporting the tea, registering the first overseas trademarks as early as 1955.

1976 — 2005

BRUCE GINSBERG BRINGS
ROOIBOS TO THE TEA
LOVING NATION

Benjamin’s grandson, Bruce, also caught the tea bug. An expert on all things tea, he continued to make finest grade Rooibos on the family farms until his desire to introduce this unique drink to new markets led him to the UK in 1976. After years of touring health shops, writing articles, promoting at trade shows, and handing out samples, Rooibos began to catch on.

2005 — PRESENT DAY

TICK TOCK
BRITAINS FAVOURITE
ROOIBOS TEA

Over 115 years since Benjamin’s first Rooibos adventures, Tick Tock has proudly become one of Britain’s favourite independent tea companies, and its iconic packs can be found in kitchen cupboards across the country. We are also still very much a family concern, with Georgia, Bruce’s daughter, busy spreading our message of ‘bright days & peaceful nights’.

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