Magazine

ROOIBOS: ONE PLANT, MANY TERROIRS

If you want to learn more about this unique South African plant, rich in antioxidants and theine free, read on.

What is Rooibos ? This bush that grows only in South Africa is rich in antioxidant and theine free.

Just like wine, with which it shares many features, Rooibos is a product of its terroir – the geological, climatic area that gives a distinctive taste to whatever is grown there. Each of the terroirs that comprise the Cederberg region, an area as large as Burgundy, has specific characteristics that impart a unique personality to the plant that grows there.

  • Algeria: located in the central southern part of the region, Algeria lies at the edge of the Cederberg Karoo Park. It is the wildest part, and few farms there grow Rooibos; none that grow it actually process it. The Rooibos that originates in Algeria is either wild or assemblies of wild and cultivated leaves.
  • Citrusdal: located in the south west of the region, Citrusdal has a climate that favours multiple crops and its Rooibos carries the flavours of the citrus fruits that are grown there. Milder temperatures late in summer are propitious for the transformation of green Rooibos, which does not ferment as quickly as does the red, and impart to it its typical fresh, slightly citrusy note. The Green Mountain that grows here bears the characteristics of this terroir: light and refreshing with the citrus notes of the neighbouring trees.
  • Clanwilliam: in the centre of these Rooibos producing areas, this very hot, windless terroir makes its influence felt on the processing of Rooibos. Rapid fermentation, due to the climate, followed by slower drying, give a dryer Rooibos. Clanwilliam is the economic centre of the Rooibos producing region and most of the major processing companies work here. Cederberg Flowers is one of the most floral of our collection, yet fairly dry. It is easily distinguishable from the Rooibos of other terroirs because of its woody sweetness.
  • Gifberg: the mountainous region 40 km (25 miles) from the sea on the Matsikama Plateau has daily temperature ranges that are extreme. The resulting stress on the Rooibos fortifies the plant, making for a more full-bodied flavour.
  • Wupperthal: on a plateau not far from the Karoo semi-desert, Wupperthal is in one of South Africa’s driest regions. The Rooibos that grows here thus gets very little rain and is exposed to a wide range of temperatures over the year. The soil types in the area are very diverse and the resulting flavours reflect this diversity.
  • Nieuwoudtville: in the Northern Cape province, the terroir of Nieuwoudtville is unique for both its size and its altitude. The daily and annual ranges of temperatures are a stress factor on the plant, heightening its taste and flavours and giving it its characteristic honey taste. Purple Sunset, Stormy Joburg, Red Veldt, Safari au Cap and Kalari Camp, all from Nieuwoudtville, share a more pronounced taste with a distinctive sweetness that results from both the altitude at which fermentation takes place and the rich soil.
  • Sandvlei: to the west of the Rooibos producing region in the sandy hollows that go down to the coast, this terroir is poor in minerals. Higher rainfall together with a small range of temperatures means that the plants grow throughout the year, with no interruption. There’s plenty of it, but the quality sometimes leaves something to be desired – with a few notable exceptions, of course.

We at Cape and Cape have elected to showcase our different varieties of Rooibos according to the terroirs where they originate to show you the diversity of this plant, unique in the world. Even more importantly, we endeavour to highlight the distinctive knowledge and techniques implemented at each farm.

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