There are 23 known species of honeybush in South Africa. Each of these species has a typical distribution in nature – some preferring sandy, coastal plains, while others flourish on cool, damp mountain slopes.
The tea is brewed from the fermented leaves and stems of the honeybush plant. The tea is naturally caffeine free and has a low tannin content, but high levels of antioxidants. These characteristics add to its status as a healthy beverage.
The honeybush plant (Cyclopia spp.) is an endemic fynbos shrub that grows naturally in the Western and Eastern Cape, in an area ranging from Piketberg to Port Elizabeth.
To prepare a cup of honeybush tea, the tea bag is simply placed in a cup of freshly boiled water for a few minutes. The tea can be enjoyed with or without milk and sweetened to taste. Honeybush can also be enjoyed as a refreshing iced tea.
In terms of its history, indigenous people of the Western Cape were probably the first to brew a drink for its medicinal properties using the crushed stems and leaves from wild-growing honeybush plants. Commercial activity remained limited until the early 1990s, but research on cultivation kick-started the establishment of plantations. In the following years, research on honeybush processing allowed for the start-up of a few processing plants. Its taste and reputation as a healthy drink soon gained worldwide recognition among tea lovers.
The first branded honeybush product, ‘Caspa Cyclopia Tea’, appeared on the South African market in the 1960s.