Contact: Prof Lizette Joubert

Generic sensory wheels have been developed for the honeybush and rooibos herbal tea industries to serve as communication and quality control tools. The sensory wheels provide industry role players with a tool to understand exactly what constitutes the "characteristic taste and aroma" of these herbal teas.

The 2012 generic honeybush wheel, compiled from data of several Cyclopia species, depicts positive and negative aroma, taste and mouthfeel attributes in a graphical format. Further research was conducted to expand the baseline datasets of honeybush, especially to develop species-specific aroma wheels. The generic sensory wheel does not capture slight differences in the aroma profiles of different Cyclopia species. For this reason, an aroma wheel for "bergtee" (Cyclopia intermedia), providing the bulk of honeybush production, has recently been released. Aroma wheels for other Cyclopia species are under development. The new aroma wheel presents data in an enhanced format. The relative importance of each aroma attribute is reflected by their relative intensity and occurrence in the dataset.

The generic sensory wheel for rooibos was also recently revised to illustrate the importance of positive and negative aroma attributes, similar to the species-specific aroma wheel for "bergtee".

2012 Honeybush
Sensory Wheel

2017 Rooibos
Aroma Wheel

2017 Cyclopia intermedia ("bergtee")
Aroma Wheel
Aroma profile of rooibos.
Role of production area​


  1. KOCH, I.S., MULLER, M., JOUBERT, E., VAN DER RIJST, M., NAES, T., 2012. Sensory characterization of rooibos tea and the development of a rooibos sensory wheel and lexicon. Food Research International, 46, 217-228, DOI:10.1016/j.foodres.2011.11.028

  2. THERON, K.A., MULLER, M., VAN DER RIJST, M., CRONJE, J.C., LE ROUX, M., JOUBERT, E., 2014. Sensory profiling of honeybush tea (Cyclopia species) and the development of a honeybush sensory wheel. Food Research International, 66, 12-22, DOI:10.1016/j.foodres.2014.08.032

  3. BERGH A.J., MULLER, M., VAN DER RIJST, M., JOUBERT, E., 2017. Optimisation and validation of high-temperature oxidation of Cyclopia intermedia (honeybush) – From laboratory to factory. South African Journal of Botany (Special Issue), 110, 152-160, DOI: 10.1016/j.sajb.2016.11.012

  4. JOLLEY, B., VAN DER RIJST, M., JOUBERT, E., MULLER, M., 2017 Sensory profile of rooibos originating from the Western and Northern Cape governed by production year and development of a rooibos aroma wheel. South African Journal of Botany (Special Issue), 110, 161-166, DOI: 10.1016/j.sajb.2016.08.005