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African Teas

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Homedale, ID 83628-3713

History of Rooibos

Our story begins at the turn of the century in the Western Cape area of South Africa.  It was the locals of the area who first discovered the fine, needle-like leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant made a tasty, aromatic tea. 

It was they who first harvested the wild-growing plants, chopping them with axes and then bruising them with hammers, and leaving them to ferment in heaps before drying them in the sun.  Today Rooibos is still processed in much the same way, but of course the methods are more mechanized and refined.

In 1904, a Russian immigrant and pioneer, Benjamin Ginsberg, became interested in Rooibos and realized its marketing potential.  He started trading it from the people of the mountains.  No doubt the fact that Ginsberg was descended from a family who had been in the tea industry in Europe for centuries provided him with a good background and the necessary experience to market this new "mountain tea".

The Rooibos market collapsed after World War II and it was at that time the producers established the Clanwilliam Tea Cooperative in 1948.  At its request, the Minister of Agriculture appointed the Rooibos Tea Control Board in 1954, the goal of which was to define goals of regulating marketing, stabilizing prices, and improving and standardizing quality.

The Board's leadership led the Rooibos industry into a new era making definite steps towards real stability and prosperity.  Today Rooibos is enjoyed by people all over the world.