The plant is used to make a herbal infusion or tisane called rooibos which means “red bush” in Afrikaans. In some instances you’ll find it spelled “rooibosch” (old Dutch) but the pronunciation remains the same. It is also commonly known as Bush Tea, Redbush Tea, and Red Tea. However calling it a tea is a bit inaccurate since all real “teas” are made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Despite this fact, no one is going to stop calling rooibos a tea anytime soon.
Producing rooibos first starts with picking the needles. The needles are then gently bruised or crushed and left to oxidize in the hot African sun. This process is what produces the distinctive reddish color of rooibos while also enhancing it’s flavor.
The ratio of needle to stem in a mix determines the grade or quality. The higher the needle content the darker, and richer the flavor will be. This can be a determining factor when people taste rooibos for the first time. Lesser grades with a low needle ratio can produce a dusty/earthy aftertaste that turn people off. Namaqua Tea brand Rooibos is considered Super Fine Grade. The superior flavor and quality of this grade is immediately noticeable producing a delicately nutty sweet taste.