This is an excerpt from the September/October issue of TEA Magazine
If you’ve been looking for an herbal beverage chock-full of anti-oxidants but without caffeine, it’s time to check out Rooibos.
The genus Aspalathus has more than 200 species that are native to the Western Cape region of South Africa. Aspalathus linearis is the species that is used for producing Rooibos tea. This legume grows as a wild shrub in the Cedarberg mountain region of South Africa. The indigenous people of that region have been wild crafting Rooibos for more than 300 years. There are a number of sub-species of Aspalathus linearis, but only one is suitable for commercial cultivation.
Rooibos was first cultivated in the 1930’s with commercial production developing in earnest following World War II. It is interesting to note that unlike Camellia sinensis, which is grown commercially in more than 45 countries around the world, Rooibos only grows in one specific region. This limitation is worrisome given changing climactic conditions around the world.
There are two distinct types of Rooibos: red fermented and green unfermented Rooibos. To produce fermented Rooibos, the leaves are bruised and oxidized, much as one would do to make black tea. The resulting leaves and tea infusion have a distinctive, vibrant orange/red color. The lesser known variety of Rooibos, called green Rooibos, is immediately dried to prevent oxidation. The enzymes in the leaves are broken down under low heat in a vacuum chamber. This ensures that green Rooibos retains its unique flavor profile and green appearance indefinitely.
As someone that has done a fair amount of content on tea, I have a lot of mixed thoughts on the way information is passed. With tea reviews or discussing a specific tea I have struggled with the question: how to talk about an individual tea or tea in general in an interesting or useful way.. Whether you like or dislike TeaDB episodes largely depends on whether you enjoy watching two particular people drink and binter. This is fine enough and it is certainly fun for Denny & I to create, but I’ll also agree with the sentiment that it’s not necessarily the most substantive way to review a tea in depth. There’s some signal but there’s also a lot of noise. Writing about a specific tea also isn’t easy and I think is actually very difficult to execute in a way that is actually consistently interesting or useful for people. Most people just want to know if you liked or didn’t like a specific tea. Making something that piques interest beyond that is a challenge and even if you don’t like them a place like Mei Leaf has succeeded in creating content that really does engage their viewers. You also have to consider that the majority of people have not had the tea or are even unfamiliar with the basic taste profile (i.e. Denny & I describing a traditionally stored pu’erh, when the audience has never had one).. Here are some phrases I dislike and hear frequently enough that I find them unhelpful and sometimes even counter-productive.
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