Rooibos: from SA’s best-kept secret to chart-topping superfood

Lifestyle

Rooibos: from SA’s best-kept secret to chart-topping superfood

This is how the tea evolved from second-rate status to an ingredient with gourmet grading

Tamara Rothbart

Every journey starts with a road.

This one begins on a winding freeway, the N7 that runs north from Africa’s southernmost city, Cape Town, across 250km of farmland and ascending mountain passes into the rugged terrain and pristine wilderness of the Cederberg, an antediluvian landscape of mountains burnt orange by iron oxide, wind blasted and rain scarred; of otherworldly jagged sandstone  formations and enigmatic San and Khoi rock art that speaks of man’s primal impulse to tell his story.

The breadth and height of the region, 100km in length, some 300km to 600km above sea level; its contradictions – dry yet shining, desolate yet rich; 4,849 different plant species and counting; its extremes – temperatures that drop below zero in winter and rise to a blistering 48ºC in summer; its quiet days cored by the sun and nights opened to an obsidian heaven of planets, nebulae, clusters, galaxies and great constellations – this is the Cederberg.  ..

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