Honeybush Tea or Cyclopia intermedia is indigenous to the cape of South Africa. I like to think of it as a sort of cousin to Rooibos!
Like Rooibos, we make an herbal tea with a pleasant, mildly sweet taste. Honeybush Tea is very popular at the Local Tea Company Carriagehouse at Selby Gardens. We offer 2 varieties; Organic Honeybush and Chocolate Honeybush. You should try both, especially if you are looking for a caffeine-free substitute for ‘true tea’ (Camellia sinensis). For instance, I drink honeybush as a complement to my tea drinking habits!
Like most teas, honeybush history can be traced back to Dutch and British trading. Established in 1652, Cape Town was a supply base for the Dutch East India Company. They traded in Indian tea and Southeast Asian spices.
Botanists began cataloging the Cape region’s rich flora, and the honeybush plant was noted in botanical literature. The native Khoisan or Bushmen treated coughs and other upper respiratory symptoms associated with infections with honeybush tea.
The honeybush plant is a shrub of the Fabaceae family and grows in the fynbos botanical zone. Bound by mountains, this narrow region is along the coast. Fynbos is Dutch for ‘fine-leaved plants’ and is characterized by woody plants with small, leathery leaves. The honeybush plant is easily recognized from the sweetly scented, bright yellow flowers and needle-like leaves.
Besides great taste, a sort of woodsy, cedar-like flavor, Honeybush has some extraordinary health benefits. Pinitol is a modified sugar present in the leaves of some legume plants. This is an expectorant and helps with coughs and phlegm. Pinitol can also lower blood sugar levels and may increase the effects of insulin.
Honeybush is under consideration as a treatment for diabetes! It would be good to have something so natural to help with such a prevalent disease. I have read Pinitol helps with acid reflux. We have a few customers who have reported relief drinking honeybush. The flavones and isoflavones of honeybush are similar to those in soy, another leguminous plant. And used to treat menopausal symptoms. That covers quite a lot of the population who should be drinking this tea!
Prepare Honeybush tea like you prepare all other teas or herbal infusions. Use boiling water and infuse for as long as you want, though at least several minutes. The lack of caffeine makes honeybush especially suited for nighttime consumption. The tea has a reputation as a calming beverage. However, I love drinking honeybush at Local Tea Company, too! The tannin content is very low, so that you will find honeybush, a mild, soft, and very drinkable tea.
And did I mention there is a chocolate version? Chocoholics love our Chocolate Honeybush. Please do not expect a cup of hot chocolate. Rather a delicate aroma of chocolate with a definite caramel aftertaste along with a bit of floral balance from the added rose petals. Desert without the calories, SPECTACULAR!
Some customers drink both versions of honeybush with milk. I find a bit of local honey (from the Sarasota Farmer’s Market) brings out a natural sweetness in Organic Honeybush, and when iced is very thirst-quenching. The Chocolate Honeybush seems to be more popular as a hot drink.
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