If South Africa has a national drink, it’s rooibos, or “red bush” tea. A caffeine-free beverage made from the fermented twigs of the the rooibos plant (Aspalathus linearis, a legume which only grows in limited areas in South Africa’s Cedarberg region), it has been used as a refreshing daily tonic for thousands of years, beginning with the Bushmen, who first identified its restorative properties. Rooibos is low in tannins, high in anti-oxidants, and utterly delicious.
The rest of the world is discovering rooibos tea, too: it has become a large export business over the last ten years. As an overseas consumer, you can support Fair Trade practice in South Africa’s rooibos industry – much as you can in the world-wide coffee industry – by buying the tea from companies that purchase their stock at fair prices from small-scale rooibos farmers.
Two Cederberg communities, in Wuppertal and Heiveld near the Western Cape / Northern Cape provincial border (click here for a reasonable map of the area around Wuppertal, which is too sparsely populated to show on most other maps), comprise the source of all of South Africa’s Fair Trade rooibos, supporting a total of about 175 families on their smallholdings. The communities’ rooibos is hand-harvested and 100% organically farmed. Several US and European companies do business with these farmers; SA Blog encourages you to catch the aroma of the extreme African southwest by sampling their wonderful tea.
DOWNLOAD OUR TRAVEL GUIDES
Fair Trade overseas rooibos tea brands:
- USA: Equal Exchange USA | Alter Eco
- UK: Equal Exchange UK | Serrv International
- France: Alter Eco FR | Jardins de Gaia
- Germany: Gepa | DWP
- Australia: Alter Eco AUS
Here’s a wonderful summertime rooibos tea recipe compliments of the Heiveld organic rooibos farming community:
Apple Summer Flip:
Ingredients: 400 ml water, 2 Tbsp loose rooibos tea, 1 small apple, 1 lemon, 100 ml clear apple juice.
- Boil water and pour over tea. Strain after 3-5 min (depending on how strong you like the tea) and allow to cool. Wash and core apple, slice thinly, place in pitcher. Squeeze lemon into pitcher and pour in apple juice. Add cool rooibos tea and ice cubes. Serve with mint sprig (optional) in tall glasses – with straws!
- Visit the Heiveld homepage: click here.