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Honeybush

Honeybush is a unique Southern African plant growing in areas ranging from the Southern to Eastern Cape, with some species growing in parts of the Cederberg Mountains. In the wild there are 23 species of honeybush that grow, however only two are used in the commercial production of honeybush tea, Cyclopia Intermedia & Cyclopia subternata. The first grows in the high mountainous areas of the Eastern Cape and the latter in the Southern Cape lowlands.  

In spring time the honeybush has an attractive yellow flower and is heavily honey scented. It grows to about 1.5 meters high and prefers fairly moist conditions.

 

Honeybush tea, strangely enough, has been in use by the local population longer than rooibos tea, with recorded history dating back to the 18th century.

 

Unlike rooibos tea, which is produced mostly in commercially planted crops, honeybush tea grows 99% wild, with the first experimental crops planted in 1996. Since most of the honeybush tea grows wild in the mountains of the Southern Cape, it calls for some interesting harvesting methods. The only access to the plants is on foot and the workers use carry bags to collect their harvest. An ingenious pulley system is used to convey the tea from the top of the mountain to a lower area, which is accessible only with tractors and trailers or off road vehicles. A wire is spun from high in the mountain to the base and then the cut tea is bundled into harvesting bags, hooked onto a pulley and then takes a ride down the mountain, where it is put on the trailer and then transported to the processing area on the farm.

 

The tea is cut wet with an old tobacco machine, after which it is fermented and dried under controlled and hygienic conditions, either under the hot African sun or mechanically. Until recently most tea was made the "natural way", but the process and quality is more difficult to control, so the majority of honeybush destined for export is mechanically dried.

 

The health claims around honeybush tea have recently gotten some backing with scientific research and published reports. Not only does honeybush taste delicious, but it also good for you! Here are a few reasons why honeybush is for you:

 

Honeybush is caffeine free and contains very little tannin.

Honeybush is very soothing drink and has a calming effect on the central nervous system.

Honeybush eases constipation.

Honeybush can be topically applied to the skin for rashes and irritations.

Honeybush is rich in minerals such as: Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Copper, Zinc, Magnesium, Manganese and Sodium.

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