Perhaps a little eclipsed by the world-wide success of Rooibos, another natural South African health tea, Honeybush is finally getting the attention it deserves.
Honeybush tea ( botanical name: Cyclopia intermedia ) grows along mountain slopes in the Cedarberg and Langkloof area, and has a naturally sweet, almost honey-like taste. Its brewing colour is a pinky red. South Africa produces only 200 tons of Honeybush tea per year. Not much when compared to the annual Rooibos tea crop of around 4000 tons. This lesser known tea apparently has plenty to offer. Just like the ever popular Rooibos tea, the tannin content of Honeybush tea is very low; and also contains no caffeine at all. Good news for would-be slimmers is that this inexpensive and readily available tea is reported to stave off hunger pangs and reduce water retention.
Scientific analysis of your typical cup of Honeybush reveals an impressive range of minerals needed for good health such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Zinc, Manganese, Iron, Aluminium, and Boron. Honeybush apparently also contains anti-oxidants which slow the ageing process of the body's cells. Recent scientific studies on Honeybush are not extensive enough to make any far-reaching medical claims, however, Honeybush tea is believed to have anti-carcinogenic ( cancer-fighting ), anti-fungal, antispasmodic and anti-depressant properties. Not a bad track record for an unassuming little bush growing wild in mountains and valleys of the Western and Southern Cape!
Honeybush tea is brewed for the perfect cup as you would any other tea, although you're advised to let Honeybush infuse a little longer than usual. Honeybush (like Rooibos) actually improves in flavour the longer you allow it to brew. Honeybush may also be brewed on the stove in teapot and left to simmer without becoming bitter. Strong Honeybush tea is also useful as a base for sauces and marinades; and enhances natural flavours when added to any vegetable stew or casserole.
Several health-promoting properties have been associated with drinking Rooibos tea and to a lesser extent Honeybush tea, e.g. as treatment for colic infants, as aid for allergies and various sleep and digestive disorders. Research shows it may alleviate menopausal symptoms in women, prevent cancerous tumours, repair sun damage, aid digestion, even stimulate milk production in nursing mothers.
Scientists have shown that cancer development is a multi-step process, and that damage to human genetic material (DNA) is likely to be a major cause of cancer; as well as other chronic diseases. Both Rooibos and Honeybush teas have been shown (in studies done at PROMEC Unit of MRC South Africa) to prevent DNA damage. The teas showed protective effects against detoxifying enzymes.
It's time for Honeybush tea to get it's fair share of the limelight; and with so many health conscious tea lovers adding it their shopping lists; it's all set to go!
The author of the article, Janet Holmes has been involved in the health and cosmetics industry for many years. She is now the director of SA Tea. Her objective is to inform the general public of the properties and benefits of South African herbal teas for healthier living.