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Rooibos tea is big in Japan

Rooibos tea has become an integral part of South Africans’ way of life.

Rooibos tea has become an integral part of South Africans’ way of life.

Published Mar 15, 2019


Rooibos is gaining popularity and tea lovers around the world are getting hooked. 

Japan, the largest tea drinking nation in the world, is the latest country to fall in love with Rooibos with more than 2000 tons being shipped to its shores last year.

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When it comes to tea, the Japanese are spoilt for choice with more than 26 different types of teas, but Rooibos is fast becoming a favourite. 

However, breaking into the Japanese market hasn’t been easy as Martin Bergh, Chairperson of the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) explains. 

"They have more than 26 different types of tea to choose from, which range from their traditional green tea varieties to jasmine and barley tea or ‘mugicha’ as it is known among the locals, so Rooibos has been up against stiff competition," says Bergh. 

Rooibos tea is big in Japan Picture supplied

Over the years, Rooibos has carved a niche for itself as a refreshing health tea, which has resonated with the ultra-health-conscious Japanese market. Today, it counts among the leading teas in Japan’s ‘Healthy Tea’ segment." 

Exports to Japan has more than tripled in the last five years as Rooibos’ presence increased in mainstream supermarkets with many launching their own private label products.

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Popular restaurant chains have also done a lot to promote Rooibos in Japan. 

Instead of serving water with their pork bone broth, which is a traditional favourite, they switched to Rooibos tea instead as they felt its clean taste complemented the dish better.

As the Japanese are purists and therefore prefer to drink Rooibos tea unflavoured, without any milk or sugar.

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