Ysterfontein Guest Farm

Rooibos History

A story that started at the turn of the last century in the Cedarberg region. The healing properties of Rooibos was discovered by the Bushmen who inhabited the Cedarberg region of South Africa. They were excellent hunters and very knowledgeable about the uses of different plants and found that the fine, needle-like leaves of the "Aspalathus Linearis" herb made tasty, aromatic tea.

It was they who first harvested the wild growing plants, chopped them with axes and then bruised them with hammers, leaving them to ferment in heaps, before drying them in the sun. Today Rooibos is still processed in much the same way, but of course the methods are certainly more mechanized and refined.

Initially Rooibos tea was used by the settlers who took to this tea as an alternative to expensive black tea. Preparation for both Rooibos tea and Black tea are similar, the only dissimilarly is the amount of brewing time and the color.

Rooibos tea was first brought to notice in 1772 by a botanist by the name of Carl Thunberg.

Although this tea was already in use by the people of Bushmen Thousands of years before that for its medical value, it came to be known only in 1772.

In 1904, Benjamin Ginsberg, a Russian immigrant and pioneer in the area, became interested in the "Teaathus Linearis" plant and realised its marketing potential.

Ginsberg was descended from a family who had been in the tea industry in Europe for centuries, providing him with a good background and the necessary experience to market the new tea and became the first exporter of Rooibos.

By 1930 a well known medical Doctor, farmer and nature lover, Dr.P.E Fras Nortier, had discovered that the beverage made from the herb had health promoting properties, and realized the value of the herb as an agricultural product. His enthusiasm inspired other farmers and commercial cultivation began.

As a result of the Rooibos market collapsing after the Second World War, the producers established the Clanwilliam Tea Cooperative in 1948. At the request of the Cooperative, the Minister of Agriculture appointed the Rooibos Tea Control Board in 1954, with the refined goals of regulating marketing, stabilizing prices, and improving and standardizing quality.

A new era began for the Rooibos industry, as the Board`s leadership guided the industry in its first definite steps towards real stability and prosperity.

Since that time, the industry has made steady progress, refining its production methods and increasing distribution so that the unique goodness of Rooibos Tea may today be enjoyed by people the world over.


Ysterfontein Guest Farm
Clanwilliam, Western Cape
South Africa

PO Box 221
8135 South Africa

+27 27 482 2512 (tel)
E-mail: guestfarm@ysterfontein.co.za
GPS Coordinates: -32.16377,18.77821