After nearly 200 years, the Khoi-Khoi and San communities are recognized as the rightful knowledge bearers of rooibos (roy-boss) tea.
This recognition also comes with a signatory that requires industries that trade in all aspects of rooibos to share benefits with the traditional knowledge holders in a fair and equitable manner. It also presents an opportunity for small farmers to become big players in a global market, preserves the biodiversity, and addresses poverty relief.
The Khoi-Khoi and San are the indigenous peoples who originally inhabited South Africa’s Cape region. This is where rooibos tea grows naturally. They were the first to inform on the usage of the rooibos plant.
This designation, which took four years of negotiation, is part of a growing movement of African countries reclaiming artifacts and scientific knowledge stolen or co-opted by European countries.
What is Rooibos?
The rooibos plant is 300 years old. It’s a medicinal herb native to South Africa’s mountain region, Cederberg. Indigenous peoples in the Cederberg region have been harvesting and brewing rooibos for centuries.
Today, Cederberg farmers still wild-harvest rooibos. Portions of the commercially produced rooibos herb is farmed in other regions of South Africa. Still, South Africa is the only country in the world producing the rooibos plant.
Rooibos tea is the national drink of South Africa. Rooibos, also known as African red tea or red bush tea, is a medicinal herb beverage. It’s chock full of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Scientists believe the health benefits come from the high levels of flavonoids.
How to Use Rooibos
Drinking rooibos tea boosts the health of your body. Steep the dried rooibos in just boiled water for 4-5 minutes. Add your favorite sweetener, spices, milk or cream and enjoy.
Applying rooibos tea directly to your skin relieves acne, pimples, eczema, and sunburn.
Simply boil a cup of rooibos tea and let it steep for 20-30 minutes. When it’s room temperature, you can apply the tea with a cotton ball to your skin as a toner. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
You can infuse rooibos in your skincare products or apply red tea powder directly to your skin. It helps prevent premature skin aging.
This official designation is a win for the Khoi-Khoi and San peoples. It acknowledges and rights a wrongdoing that has existed far too long.