Global interest in rooibos sees an influx of tourists to the Cederberg

Posted by David Henning on 13 May 2022

A staple of every South African kitchen cabinet, rooibos is garnering international attention after being awarded the European Union’s protected designation of origin (PDO) status in 2021.

Picture: Selena N. B. H/ Getaway Gallery

This protected status is only given to foods whose quality or traditions is strictly linked to a particular region.

Rooibos is the first African food to receive PDO certification and join the ranks of Parmigiano Reggiano, Nürnberger Glühwein, buffalo mozzarella, Dutch gouda, champagne and even Latvian big grey peas.

Rooibos is only farmed in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape and although there have been attempts to grow it elsewhere, the climate and soil conditions are just not conducive.

Since receiving this certification, farms in the Cederberg region are reporting an influx of international tourists.

‘The registration of Rooibos as a PDO in the EU last year has created more awareness among the large tea-drinking nations in Europe of the origins of Rooibos and that it is unique to and only grows in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape,’ said Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC).

‘Most of these tea estates are 100+ years old, so staying there and learning about its history, tea culture and heritage is a unique experience in and of itself. When you go on a tea tour, a whole new world starts to unfold. It takes you inside a century-old community that has been farming and processing tea for generations.’

Co-founder of the Rooibos Route, Sanet Sander, told Business Live ‘We’ve hosted tourists from all over the world, but there’s been an influx of German and Swiss tourists of late.’

Rooibos Route offers tours of how the tea is produced from farm to cup. Throughout the harvest season between December and March, their tours detail the history of rooibos and the town of Clanwilliam.

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