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Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos tea)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Fabales > Family: Fabaceae > Subfamily: Papilionoideae > Genus: Aspalathus

Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos tea)

Rooibos, Aspalathus linearis, plantation with Rain daisies, Dimorphotheca pluvialis, in Sandveld near Clanwilliam, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Colin Paterson-Jones ]

Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos tea) Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos tea)

Wild plant of Rooibos, Aspalathus linearis, flowering in spring in habitat on Sir Lowry's Pass, Western Cape South Africa. [photo Colin Paterson-Jones ]

Aspalathus linearis, Gifberge, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo H.G. Robertson, Iziko ]

Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos tea)

Harvested Rooibos, the stems and leaves of Aspalathus linearis, after milling, being turned on an open air drying floor after milling on a farm on the Matsikamma, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Colin Paterson-Jones ]

Native to the Western Cape, South Africa. Rooibos tea is derived from the leaves and twigs of this plant and was a drink developed by the local Khoi people. In 1904, a Russian immigrant and tea merchant by the name of Benjamin Ginsberg started buying the tea from the Khoi and marketing it commercially. Rooibos tea has now become a popular tea in many parts of the world because it contains no stimulants and in particular, no caffeine. To produce the tea, the leaves and twigs are harvested, crushed by hammering to promote a fermentation process, and dried. Further processing to package it in tea bags is the norm these days.


  • Van der Bank, M., Van Wyk, B.-E. & Van der Bank, F.H. 1995. Biochemical genetic variation in four wild populations of Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos tea). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 23: 251256.
  • Van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World - Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.


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