Rooibos comes from the rugged slopes of the Western Cape Mountains in South Africa. In 1772, botanist Carl Humberg discovered that the locals of the Cape’s Cedarberg region made a sweet tasting "tea" of the indigenous "red bush" plant. They picked the stems and leaves, bruised them with hammers, left them in piles to ferment, and then dried them in the sun. Traditionally drunk by the region's Khoi peoples, the infusion tastes like black tea yet has no caffeine, is low in tannin, and is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Rooibos is harvested from needle-like leaves and stems of Aspalathus linearis after the standard tea processing procedures of fermentation and drying. The leaves are originally green and then cut, bruised by rollers (to encourage fermentation), watered, fermented, and sun-dried. Rooibos is steeped in the traditional manner (3-5 minutes) and can be drunk with a spot of milk, sugar, lemon, or honey.
Rooibos is said to relieve stomach ulcers, nausea, constipation, heartburn, cramps, colic, and insomnia. The teas made from Rooibos are believed to be rich in antioxidants. When applied directly to the skin, they may relieve itching, sunburn, and diaper rash. Their mineral content, which includes potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc, can contribute to a healthful diet and overall good health.