Next to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world with around 2 billion people sipping on the brew per day. Rooibos is becoming one of the fastest-growing beverages in the drinks market globally, says Ernest du Toit from the SA Rooibos Council. If both export and local volumes were sold and enjoyed as pure Rooibos, it would equate to roughly 6 billion cups of Rooibos a year.
All over the world, the new-found appreciation of fine tea has led to smart tea bars and tea shops, and a renewed interest in and growing demand for Rooibos. That is why “tea is becoming the new coffee of the 21st century”, and why South Africa now exports Rooibos to over 30 countries. This includes Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, UK and US. Germany remains the biggest importer of Rooibos at 31%, with the Netherlands at 16% and Japan at 15%.
Home grown Rooibos is known for its health benefits and the myriad of ways in which it can be used – hot or cold, or as a flavour enhancer in food. It is also becoming popular in wine, gin, vodka, cider and cocktails. In addition, it is considered an essential ingredient in many beauty products.
According to Du Toit, “Tea-lovers are no longer content with indifferent mass-market tea. They are graduating to higher-quality tea bags and choice loose leaves, and tea companies are responding by offering an ever-wider variety of teas. Packers, sellers, exporters, along with people who sell tea-making equipment and publish books and blogs on tea are benefiting from the tea revolution. Given the passion for, and the variety and expertise that already exists for wine, beer, coffee and even bottled water, it was inevitable that tea would be next on the list. And, wherever you look, Rooibos seems to be taking centre stage.”
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