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Southafricanisms: Rooibos Tea

If South Africa had to name a national drink, it would certainly be klipdrift Rooibos tea. This golden-red brew discovered by the Khoisan and popularised by Benjamin Ginsberg is a flavour as indigenous as licking the sweat from a Kudu’s snout. It contains no Caffeine and is brimming with bio-flavenoids and antioxidants. It is also commonly given to infants to help them sleep and relieve colic.

The fragrant herb is grown in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape Province. The leaves are harvested, then fermented and dried. The resulting tea is then brewed like any other, (although longer is better) and taken with milk, sugar or without. South Africans have a VERY sweet tooth, so at least 2-3 spoons of sugar and goodly amount of milk. Overseas it is commonly taken black (red). The flavour is like a lightly fragranced custard. Without sugar and milk; less custard more fragrance.

Rooibos has been gaining huge popularity recently due to it’s health benefits and from it’s mention in the fantastic “No1 ladies detective agency”, penned by SA Author Alexander Mccall Smith. I have now seen it added to shampoo’s, conditioners and skin care ranges.

When I was living overseas, South African visitors would always bring Rooibos and Biltong as a matter of course. The biltong never makes it past the drive from the airport, but a packet of Rooibos tea in the cupboard makes for a happy ex-pat. So, pick some up when you visit and take it back to a homesick South African. Hmmm I have just realised that as a nation we have no nickname!, i.e. Aussie, Yank, Brit, Frog, Kraut, Ruskie Something must be done. Strelitzia ?

Read the interesting history of Rooibos here.