The renowned South African tea, called Rooibos, is a favourite at Simbavati Cederberg Ridge and in many households throughout the world. Only grown and produced in the Cederberg region, this extraordinary tea is intricately connected to our lodge and our location.
The Beginnings of Rooibos
Over 300 years ago, the indigenous Khoisan people harvested the leaves of the Aspalathus Linearis plant to create herbal remedies and savor its aromatic flavour. Their knowledge and appreciation for this plant laid the foundation for the rich history of Rooibos Tea.
In 1772, European botanist Carl Thunberg observed the Khoisan people’s rituals of climbing mountains to find wild Rooibos plants. This observation sparked renewed interest in the tea, and early Cape-Dutch settlers began to embrace Rooibos as an affordable alternative to costly black tea imports.
Fast forward to 1904 when Benjamin Ginsberg, a Russian immigrant, made a significant impact on Rooibos. Young and passionate, Ginsberg marketed Rooibos as ‘Mountain Tea,’ positioning it as a herbal alternative to traditional tea. His enthusiasm helped catalyze Rooibos’s journey towards commercialization.
The story continued to evolve when Dr. Le Fras Nortier, a local medical doctor and amateur botanist, initiated the first agricultural research into Rooibos in 1930. Teaming up with Olof Bergh, a commercial farmer (an ancestor of Cederberg Ridge’s owner), they transformed the Rooibos industry. Soon, Rooibos farming expanded along the slopes of the Cederberg mountain range.
Health Benefits & Production
In 1968, Dr. Annetjie Theron, a South African mother, hailed Rooibos as a remedy for her colicky baby. Her book, “Allergies: an Amazing Discovery,” brought Rooibos into the limelight. Subsequent scientific studies explored Rooibos’s antioxidant properties and numerous health benefits, propelling its popularity, particularly in South Africa.
In 2006, Rooibos innovation took a unique turn when the first tea espresso, known as ‘Red Cappuccino,’ was introduced. It marked an extraordinary moment in the tea world. The production of green Rooibos tea, an unfermented variety, commenced in the 1990s, adding another layer to Rooibos’s versatility.
Modern Rooibos production involves a meticulous process, starting from planting seeds in well-prepared seedbeds. The first crop is harvested 18 months later, with annual harvests from January to April. Once harvested, Rooibos undergoes a natural fermentation process, changing from green to its signature brick-red hue, which contributes to its unique flavor and aroma.
The Appeal of Rooibos
Rooibos’s appeal extends beyond its delicious taste. It offers a plethora of health benefits, such as high antioxidant levels that combat diseases, support the immune system, and reduce the signs of aging. Notably, Rooibos is 100% pure, naturally caffeine-free, and low in tannins, making it a versatile beverage.
You’ll find Rooibos extracts used in various health and beauty products, from face creams to dietary supplements, harnessing its natural goodness.
The Rooibos Experience
Here at Cederberg Ridge, we have a strong connection to Rooibos tea. The Bergh family, our owners, have been involved in Rooibos tea production for generations. To offer you the full Rooibos experience, we organise guided Rooibos tea farm tours with tea tastings included. You can also enjoy Rooibos in your room when preparing a hot drink and savour it in various dishes we serve.
Discover more about our Rooibos Farm Tour: www.simbavati.com/experiences/rooibos-farm-tours/