All the world’s rooibos – a member of the pea family – grows in one little region of South Africa, not far from Cape Town. It is a very fussy plant, just like tea. But whereas tea insists on highland soil and sunny showers, rooibos (‘redbush’ in Afrikaans) demands arid, sandy – almost barren – ground, and refuses to grow anywhere else.
The rooibos plant not only grows in very different conditions to tea, its tiny, needle leaves bear no resemblance the dense, rich foliage of tea leaves. And yet rooibos yields a drink not so very different in colour and taste to tea. Remarkably, rooibos is also completely caffeine-free, so unlike tea you can drink it with impunity at all times of day. Rooibos may also have anti-inflammatory qualities, according to some lab studies.