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  • Writer's pictureHula Consulting

Where Does Rooibos Come From?

As the leader in the production of Rooibos in the world, Hula Consulting proudly recommends DMH Ingredients the USA supplier of Rooibos Limited. The company provides incomparable quality #Rooibos and #Honeybush for your tea line's use as straight drinkers and to add to your blends and flavored herbals.

What is Rooibos?

The Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) plant is a shrub-like bush that grows to a height of one to two meters, at an altitude of approximately 300 to 600 meters above sea level. Rooibos belongs to the genus Aspalathus and is part of the legume family. This genus is indigenous to South Africa and has over 200 species! However, Aspalathus liners is the only species which is used and known as Rooibos.

#RooibosLimited has been the preferred supplier of Rooibos to the world since 1954, and DMH Ingredients is your local USA supplier! Since its inception, the company has gained experience with the production and development of the Rooibos plant into usable products and has expanded its horizons becoming the trusted supplier of Rooibos and Honeybush.

Planting In the late summer months (February - March), these seeds are planted with regular wetting for maximum germination. After four to six days, two cotyledons appear above the ground, later followed by needle-like leaves. During the cooler winter months (June - August), the seedlings reach a height of 10 to 20cm and are transplanted into their rows in the plantations. A selection of Rooibos production is strictly organically grown, and the remainder receives pesticides sparingly, and only when necessary.

Harvesting and Fermentation The plants are pruned for the first time about 18 months after planting and later harvested annually by cutting off the branches 50cm above the ground. These cuttings are neatly bound into bundles and transported to the processing yards. There, the entire bushel is put through a cutting machine and the cuttings undergo proper bruising, airing, and watering, to trigger the all-important chemical process of enzymatic oxidation, as the Rooibos is left in low heaps to ferment.

A process of enzymatic oxidation takes place during which the product changes from green to the characteristic brick red color and develops the distinctive flavor and sweet aroma of red rooibos. After fermentation, Rooibos is spread out in large drying yards to naturally dry under the hot African sun before any further processing.

Sorting, Grading, and Packaging The product is screened, blended according to the various grade specifications on cut size and particle density, and then steam-treated using state-of-the-art equipment. Rigorous testing and evaluation is done at all steps in the process to ensure prestigious quality across all grades suitable for packing into teabags or loose-leaf form. Throughout the process, bacteriological control is vigorously monitored by laboratory testing to ensure the final product can be certified as hygienic, safe, superior quality Rooibos. The Rooibos Ltd processing factory is FSSC2200 certified. The finished Rooibos is finally weighed by electronic scales and packed in paper bags, bulk bags or vacuum boxes, ready for dispatch to thirsty rooibos lovers around the world.

Unfermented green rooibos tea is also available. #GreenRooibos is harvested from the same South African plant as the traditional red rooibos but is processed differently. The green rooibos leaves are handled carefully and lightly steamed at under 115ºF to prevent oxidation, leaving them closer to their natural state. The resulting brew is lighter-bodied than red rooibos and has a woody-grassy cup with natural sweetness. Like red rooibos, it is also naturally caffeine-free and great plain or flavored, hot or iced for anytime enjoyment.

What is Honeybush?

An area known as the Garden Route, a region of wild flowers and the largest expanse of indigenous forest in South Africa is home to the Honeybush plant. The Honeybush plant is a shrub of the Fabaceae family that only grows in specific places in the fynbos biome of the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa, well adapted to the climate and soil conditions where it grows naturally. Honeybush populations are mainly found on the cooler, wetter southern slopes.

The use of Honeybush was first documented in 1705. In 1772, the Swedish botanist Thunberg recorded that he found “honigtee” during one of his field trips in the Cape. The earliest record of the early Cape colonists using it as a medicinal plant dates back to 1830. The Scientist reported in 1881, after scientific research, that the herbal tea was naturally caffeine-free.

Harvesting Honeybush is harvested by hand with pruning shears throughout the year. The shoots (leaves, stems, and twigs) of the plant are cut, then bound into bundles for transportation to the processing plant.

Fermentation The entire bushel of Honeybush is pushed through the cutting machine, where it is cut into pieces depending on the final grade, and bruised to facilitate fermentation, allowing the finely cut material to quickly oxidize. The fermentation takes place in special temperature and moisture-controlled chambers. During this process, the product changes from green to the characteristic dark brown color and develops a sweet, honey-like aroma. Fermented Honeybush is sent to dry.

Green Honeybush is the unfermented variation. With #GreenHoneybush, the tea is cut and dried immediately. The extraction is lighter in color and the flavor is not as sweet as with fermented Honeybush, however, the antioxidant activity is higher. This newer Green Honeybush is new to the USA and is sold on special order requests.

Drying, Sorting, Grading, and Packaging The Honeybush is mechanically dried in a custom-built drying chamber, where it is sorted into various sizes for loose tea or teabag use. As with Rooibos, the #Honeybush product is subjected to rigorous quality control. Various tests are conducted to ensure that the final product can be certified as a superior quality Honeybush ready to be enjoyed by tea-lovers around the world.

Researchers are using breeding programs and improved cultivation methods to improve quality and productivity in the Honeybush industry. #Sustainability for farming as well as wild-harvesting are top priorities of focus for the production research.

Thirsty for more?

The #teaexperts at Hula Consulting are honored to help with procuring wholesale teas from #DMHIngredients for your tea company. For self drinkers or to use these teas in your next custom blend, please email or call 561.600.7025 for pricing and samples! We look forward to discussing your tea business with you!

Photographs supplied by Rooibos Ltd,, under license.

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