There is nothing better than learning more!
Bringing more Rooibos into the mix over here at Freedom Tea so decided to look into more on the history, plant genesis, and where the plant is from. Other than knowing it was only grown in the Cedarburg area of South Africa and that it was naturally caffeine free (or as free as a natural plant can be) my education on this delightful beverage was limited.
My current selection has an organic Rooibos flavored with Cinnamon but I want to expand the selection. I have my eye on a few flavours that are sure to be a hit as an ice tea for the summer selection so it was time to explore this wonderful beverage further.
On an initial Google search I came across the best site possible to find out everything and even more than I had anticipated. The site is the South African Rooibos Council site, a non profit group with a vision to enable “a stable, cohesive and internationally competitive South African Rooibos industry that will ensure future sustainability to the benefit of all stakeholders”. http://www.sarooibos.co.za/home-mainmenu-1
A visit to their site is a must see if you want to learn more. There you will find information regarding health and environmental research and initiatives, history, harvesting and processing techniques. There is a FAQ section and their vision, direction and governance explained. Seems as though it is mainly funded by the membership but then that too is explained within their site.
For me I found this intriguing:
“Rooibos is a unique product from a unique area. The plant is indigenous to the Cedarberg region, north-west of Cape Town, where the local communities have been using it to brew tea for centuries. This is the only place in the world where Rooibos grows naturally. The region’s hot and dry summers, winter rainfall and coarse sandy soil is ideally suited to the Rooibos plant. The Cedarberg region’s rock art heritage, geology and biodiversity attract scientists from all over the world. It is also a popular adventure sport and eco-tourism destination.”
“Rooibos seeds are sown between February to March and the seedlings transplanted a few months later. It takes about 18 months before plants can be harvested for the first time. Each spring the plant is covered with small yellow flowers. Each flower produces a small legume with a single seed inside. The Rooibos seeds pop out when they are ripe and can therefore be difficult to collect. Early Rooibos farmers got hold of the local wisdom that ants harvested the seeds and that they could collect Rooibos seeds from anthills. Today, most farmers collect the seeds by sifting the sand around the plants.
During the summer harvest, the plants are cut to about 30 cm from the ground. After three to five harvests, the Rooibos plantation must be re-established.”
“The Cederberg boasts a spectacular gallery of indigenous rock art, found in caves and under rock overhangs. The art is between 300 and 6 000 years old, part of the rich legacy left by the Khoi and San people who inhabited the area from early on.”
This plant which we have come to love unfortunately, according to all the scientific studies, is at risk from global warming and other eco system threats for the simple fact it only grows in this one beautiful place on our planet. According to this news release http://www.news24.com/SciTech/News/Climate-change-theatens-rooibos-20120227 the plant could become extinct within a century from global warming! Just another reason we need to pay attention to how we can change our ways in order that we do not loose that which we enjoy and is good for us!