Refreshing and cleansing with hints of honey and finish reminiscent of light Madagascar pepper. Consumption with milk and sugar is often recommended.
Honeybush, (Latin: Cyclopia spp.) is often referred to as the other red tea. (The first one being Rooibos.) The bush is commonly grown in the Cederberg District, or the Eastern Cape, of South Africa. Although major commercial interest in Honeybush only began over the last decade or so, international interest in Honeybush can be traced back to the 1650's. In 1652, the Dutch East India Company founded a spice and tea trading settlement in what is now Cape Town. Soon afterward, Dutch botanists began cataloguing the wealth of flora growing in the cape. They discovered that the African tribes living in the region, the San and Khoi-Khoi, brewed a sweet tea from a plant with sweetly scented bright yellow flowers - the Honeybush. It did not take long for the colonists to begin brewing the tea for themselves as a caffeine free tea substitute, harvesting the fresh leaves from bushes that grew wild in the region surrounding the settlement.
These days, much of the organic Honeybush produced for market is still harvested from wild varieties of the plant. Over the past decade, as awareness of the bush and the tasty and nutritious tea that can be brewed from it has grown, so too have the levels of collection and production for both local and international consumption. To help illustrate the phenomenal growth the Honeybush industry has undergone in recent years consider these numbers: In 1997, roughly 30 tons of the plant were collected and processed, about enough to make one cup of tea per week, for one year, for a quarter million people. By the year 2000, that amount had reached nearly 160 tons and by 2004 nearly 300 tons! That's a whole lot of honey!
So how is organic Honeybush tea manufactured? The process is similar to that of regular black tea. There are 4 steps: harvesting, cutting, fermentation (oxidation), and drying. First the collected bush clippings are brought to the factory where they are chopped in order to speed up the cellular breakdown responsible for fermentation. Next, the cuttings are formed into a curing heap - an oval shaped heap about 5 meters in diameter and 2 meters high, (roughly 2 tons of the cut honeybush.) The heap is packed very firmly and then covered with canvas sacks and left to ferment for about 3 days. The temperature inside the heap builds quickly and the cuttings turn from a green to a dark brown. At the same time, the tea begins to develop its sweet aromatic qualities. Once the tea has fermented, it is spread out on canvas sheets and allowed to dry for one or two days.
The result is as healthy as it is tasty. Honeybush tea is caffeine free and high in antioxidants. The tea is also high in Pinitol, a modified sugar that is reportedly helpful in lowering blood sugar levels. Most importantly, the tea has a wonderfully sweet, slightly astringent flavor with deep overtones of honey - the overall flavor is unique and has been compared to hot apricot jam or a dried fruit mix. When brewing the tea, try adding a spoonful of honey to the cup, it will help open the flavor, and enhance the natural honey like character of the tea. We are proud to offer you this unique tea. The sweet Honeybush, truly one of the more complex flavors of Africa!
Caffeine Level: None