Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: Rooibos -- What is it?
From: (F. Jacot Guillarmod)
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 1994 22:50:33 GMT

>> It's the second ingredient listed on Celestial Seasonings' Harvest Spice tea. I have no idea what it is. I can't find it in the dictionary or anything.
>Rooibos is the Afrikaans name for tea from a tree also known as "bushman" or "red-bush" tree. Unfortunately, I can't find a latin name for it.

"Rooibos", Combretum apiculatum, is a tree which occurs in the Transvaal and has timber which is borer and termite proof, making it useful for fenceposts.

"Rooibostee" is a decoction made from the dried twigs and leaves of the shrub Aspalathus linearis, which is found on the Olifantsrivier and Cedarberg mountains of the Western Cape (north of Cape Town). It's on sale commercially in South Africa and you can find it in any supermarket under such trade names as "Eleven o'clock - the original rooibosch tea". It's caffeine free and has a low tannin content - despite that, it's delicious. The packet in our kitchen cupboard has the address: B. Ginsberg (Pty) Ltd, 47 Morningside, N'Dabeni, Cape Town, on the side of the box.

The botanical information above is from "Common Names of South African Plants", by C.A. Smith, Dept of Agricultural Technical Services, Botanical Survey Memoir No 35, 1966. Its 642 taxpayer subsidised pages are jampacked with fascinating details on the names and uses of indigenous plants. Another useful supplementary book is "Food from the Veld - Edible wild plants of southern Africa", by F.W. Fox & M.E. Norwood Young, Delta Books, Johannesburg, 1982, ISBN 0 908387 20 2, 400 pages. The retail and subjective information is from observation and personal experience.