>>> THE HONEYBUSH STORY....
From crop to cup
After harvesting, several steps are involved in the process to get honeybush tea ready for the market. Firstly, the leaves and stems are cut into small pieces, moistened and then subjected to a high-temperature oxidation process. This is also known as 'fermentation' or 'curing' in the industry, and it is during this process that the tea develops its characteristic and sought-after sweet aroma and flavour, as well as its red-brown to brown colour, depending on the
Cyclopia species. The tea leaves are then dried, sieved and packaged.
Honeybush processing: One of the first steps in processing is to feed the plant
material through a cutter. The workers from the farm Nooitgedacht here are (fltr)
Esmeray van Ross, Julian Booysen, Piet Booysen and Leentjie Willeman.
Photo by Heilie Combrink, courtesy of Netwerk24.
Fermenting the plant material: Quinzano Willeman is overlooking the process of
heating up honeybush plant material in a stainless-steel drum for 70 hours at 70
on the farm Nooitgedacht. Photo by Heilie Combrink, courtesy of Netwerk24.
A lasting honeybush legacy * What is in a name?
From crop to cup * First records of a local cottage industry
Dr Hannes de Lange: A reflection on the pioneering days
Commercialisation of Cyclopia genistoides – a story that originated at the foot of Table Mountain
The advancing role of research in growing the honeybush indust
Research on honeybush cultivation
Research on honeybush tea processing
Local growth and the start of an international footprint
Looking into the future … Dr Hannes de Lange, Pioneer of the formal honeybush industry, December 2020
A vision for the honeybush industry: Joyene Isaacs, chairperson Agricultural Research Council Board | Former HOD Western Cape Department of Agriculture, March 2021
A honeybush timeline: milestones, highlights and interesting snippets
Sources of information
First records of a local cottage industry
tea has a long history of regional use as a medicinal plant or herbal
tea. Some of the earliest records indicate that it was used as
restorative and expectorant in chronic catarrh and pulmonary
tuberculosis. The earliest reference to honeybush is found in a
European taxonomic script of 1705. Later, Carl Thunberg, a Swedish
botanist, recorded the use of the name 'honigtee' during his travels in
the Cape in the 1770s. In 1815, Christian Latrobe was served
'tea-water', believed to be honeybush, during his travels in the
Langkloof area. He also mentioned the constantly filled infusion vessel,
always visible to the visitor. Later, in 1829, James Holman referred to
the 'infusion of a wild herb that is used for tea', during his travels
through the Langkloof.
results of an anatomical and chemical study of Cyclopia genistoides
('Cape tea') were published in The Pharmaceutical Journal and
Transactions, with reference to the traditional name, 'honig-thee'.
Regular harvesting and oven curing of 'blommetjiestee' were performed
near Riversdale in the Western Cape in South Africa, in the 1890s. In
1925, Marloth referred to the regional use of specific Cyclopia species
for tea. This could be a possible indication of their prevalence in
these areas, e.g., C. genistoides in Cape Peninsula, and C. subternata
in Caledon (Overberg) and George regions of the Western Cape. The cold
infusion was referred to as 'an excellent thirst quencher in hot
weather, especially with a slice of lemon'.
honeybush was largely unknown outside the areas where it grew
naturally. The limited harvesting and tea production of the 20th century
were centred in the Langkloof region in the Eastern Cape in South
Africa. During the 1930s, the Nortjés harvested 'bergtee' (Cyclopia
intermedia) in the eastern parts of the Kouga Mountain range and traded
it for less than 2 cents per kilogram. The other prominent producers of
the 1940s to 1990s were the Kritzingers from Misgund and Van der Watts