Pronounced ‘roy-boss’, rooibos is a naturally caffeine-free tea made from the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis shrub. Celebrated as a superfood, its deep colour and smooth taste are enjoyed around the world as a gentle alternative to black and green teas.
What is rooibos?
FROM CEDERBERG TO CUP
Rooibos grows in the Cederberg coastal mountains of South Africa, a ruggedly beautiful wilderness three hours north of Cape Town. The magical combination of hot summers, cool winters and well-drained sandy soils allow rooibos to flourish here, and only here. These special conditions make your cup of rooibos truly unique – from its earthy sweetness to its remarkable health promoting properties.
AN ARTISAN CRAFT
Each summer, between December and April, farm workers sickle and bundle branches of rooibos into hessian bags. Then they chop, bruise and dampen the leaves before laying them out to cure naturally under the hot South African sun.
Inspired by traditional Chinese methods and pioneered by Tick Tock forefather Benjamin Ginsberg over a century ago, rooibos making is science and art in equal measure. Artisans carefully monitor the leaves’ colour, texture and moisture to decide when the rooibos is ready. One sign is that the local honeybees arrive, attracted by the deliciously sweet scent.
GREEN TO RED
It’s during curing (or oxidation) that rooibos – which means ‘red bush’ in Afrikaans – earns its name. Exposed to the sun, the harvested leaves change colour from fresh green to deep, amber red. This is the very same natural process that causes your apple to change colour after you take a bite.
To make green rooibos, the oxidation step is skipped. The leaves keep their original colour and the resulting tea has a lighter, distinctly citrussy taste.
A GENTLE FRIEND
The wonderfully smooth taste and health promoting properties of rooibos have long been appreciated in its native South Africa. Naturally caffeine free, low in tannins and bursting with antioxidants, it’s now recognised around the world as a true superfood. Rooibos is delicious with or without milk, blended with other ingredients or served as a refreshing iced tea.