I’m a big fan of the hugely successful The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by famous Edinburgh author Alexander McCall Smith. The main character, Precious Ramotswe, who regularly entertains clients and visitors with a cup of ‘Redbush’, has done wonders for the popularity of this amazing beverage.
Rooibos (or Redbush, Red Tea, Bush Tea …) is a caffeine free herb from the Cedarberg Region of South Africa. It is only here, in the difficult mountains and valleys deep in South Africa that Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) grows in its natural state. Temperatures regularly drop to zero degrees centigrade during the winter months and rise to a staggering 48 degrees centigrade at the height of summer.
In a similar way to actual tea, Rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) goes through a fermentation process. The bright green needle-like leaves are finely chopped using special cutting machines to maintain a uniform cutting length before being bruised between rollers to trigger the natural chemical processes. After a good airing the Rooibos leaves are left to ferment in small mounds. By leaving it out to dry in the African sun, it changes from grassy green to a lovely dark amber colour and develops the characteristic flavour and sweet aroma of Rooibos.
Not only does it taste great, it seems to be good for your health too due to the many flavinoids, free-radical fighting antioxidants (similar to polyphenols found in tea leaves). As it is caffeine free it’s therefore great for pregnant women, children and those with a caffeine intolerance. It has also been shown to soothe the body’s reaction to allergy and rashes and to help relieve stomach pains.
Try some of our Big Red Rooibos (simple, straight Rooibos just as it comes) or for those who like the sweeter things in life try our Rooibos Crème Caramel. For a kick like no other though it has to be our Chilli Rooibos. Surprisingly, Big Red Rooibos can take milk very well but I don’t recommend it in the flavoured varieties. Let me know what you think.
You might also like to know that our Rooibos has just been awarded 2 gold stars at the Great Taste Awards. We’re very pleased. Details of our other award winning teas will follow shortly!