Local inhabitants of the Cederberg region first discovered that Rooibos leaves can be brewed as a refreshing drink, more than 300 years ago. They would use axes to harvest the plant and then bruise the leaves with hammers, before leaving them to ferment and later dry in the sun. Today the harvesting and processing of this indigenous herb is done in much the same way, only using more advanced equipment.
Crossing the seas
Early Cape-Dutch settlers started drinking Rooibos tea as a cheaper alternative to expensive black tea from Europe. In 1772, European botanist, Carl Thunberg, visited the Cape to report on the Rooibos plant and its tea variant.
In 1904, Russian immigrant, Benjamin Ginsberg, recognised the potential of this unique tea and started trading with Rooibos tea, locally and internationally. This made him the first ever exporter of Rooibos and still today, the Ginsberg family continues to market Rooibos.
Research and development
In the early 1900s, Dr Le Fras Nortier started researching the medicinal value and agricultural potential of Rooibos, since the doctor and nature-lover in him was drawn to this mysterious and aromatic tea. Still, the commercial growing of Rooibos only started in the 1930’s.
In 1968, Annique founder, Dr Annique Theron, put the spotlight on Rooibos with her claim that it soothed away her baby’s colic. She published a book on her findings called “Allergies: An Amazing Discovery” and continued to make huge strides in the promotion of the health benefits of Rooibos. Read more about Dr Theron’s discovery here.
In 1984 Rooibos made headlines in Japan as an anti-ageing product.
Green Rooibos was developed in 1995 by the Agricultural Research Council (Infruitec) in South Africa.
More recent Rooibos innovations include the red espresso – the first tea espresso in the world, which was introduced to coffee shops and retail outlets in 2006 – and wine that contains Rooibos in place of Sulphites as the preservative. Keep up with the latest innovations by reading our blog regularly.