Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Next to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. In fact, on any given day around 2 billion people sip on the brew.

Homegrown rooibos tea, known for its abundant health benefits, is a firm favourite among South Africans and tea connoisseurs the world-over. 

It can be enjoyed in a myriad of ways: hot or cold and is becoming very popular in wine, gin, vodka, cider and cocktails, and is used as a flavour enhancer in yoghurt, ice creams, syrups, sauces, foods and more.

The drink is also considered an essential ingredient in beauty products and can be found in age-defying skin creams, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps and fragrances, and comes in countless still and sparkling iced tea varieties.

According to Ernest du Toit, a director of the SA Rooibos Council, the tea, which is exclusively grown in the Cederberg region, is becoming one of the fastest-growing beverages in the drinks market globally. 

“Worldwide consumption of rooibos is at around 15 000 tons per annum and the growing demand for the product has pushed exports up to more than 7 000 tons per year. If both export and local volumes were sold and enjoyed as pure rooibos, it would equate to roughly 6 billion cups of rooibos tea per annum.”

South Africa exports rooibos tea to over 30 countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, UK and US. Germany still remains by far the biggest importer of rooibos tea at 31%, with the Netherlands at 16% and Japan at 15%. 

He said tea was becoming the new coffee of the 21st century.

“Tea-lovers are no longer content with indifferent mass-market tea. They are graduating to higher-quality tea bags and choice loose leaves, and tea companies are responding by offering an ever-wider variety of teas. Packers, sellers, exporters, along with people who sell tea-making equipment and publish books and blogs on tea are benefiting from the tea-revolution. 


This rooibos liqueur recipe can be served as a special festive season tipple:

 

ROOIBOS LIQUEUR

Picture: Supplied


Ingredients

  • 750ml brandy
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 750ml strong, hot Rooibos
  • 600g white sugar (750ml)
  • 25ml honey

 

Method

  • Add cloves and cinnamon to the brandy, shake the bottle and allow it to infuse overnight.
  • Heat sugar and Rooibos tea over moderate heat until sugar has dissolved.
  • Boil uncovered for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in honey.
  • Remove cloves and cinnamon from the brandy.
  • Add the brandy to the tea syrup and mix well.
  • Pour into sterilized bottles and seal.


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The Mercury