Herbal teas are grown and produced all over the world. Throughout history, they were often relied upon as remedies for a number of ailments. In fact, the first recorded herbal brew dates back to 2737 BC in China. Made by steeping edible plant parts with hot water, the number of possible combinations and types of herbal teas is almost uncountable.
Generally speaking, herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free. Some of the ingredients used to make them include herbs, spices, fresh or dried flowers, seeds, stems, fruit, bark, and roots. One type of herbal tea, or tisane, that was a well-kept secret until recently is honeybush tea. Best known for its taste and potential health benefits, this tisane comes from a plant that grows mainly in the wild. Notably, honeybush tea gets its name from the sweet-smelling flowers the plant produces.
Honeybush tea is made from the dried leaves of Cyclopia, a flowering plant that is native to South Africa. With over 20 different species of this type of plant, only a handful are used for commercial tea production. Out of all the species, this particular tisane usually comes from a mixture of C. intermedia, C. subternata, and C. sessiliflora.
Generally speaking, the Cyclopia plant can grow up to ten feet tall and produces aromatic light-yellow flowers. The flowers smell sweet, like honey. Although honeybush tea is made from the leaves, it is named after the delectable smelling blossoms.
It is believed that the indigenous people living in the Western Cape of Africa were the first to brew this tisane for medicinal purposes. The first recorded discovery of the honeybush was in 1705, and the first documented use, which was by colonists living at the Cape, was in 1830. The colonists, like the indigenous people, used honeybush tea as remedies for ailments.
Honeybush tea wasn’t commercialized and experienced by other parts of the world until the 1990s. It became popular due to a sudden interest by scientists who wanted to know how to cultivate the plant to establish plantations. The first official harvest for commercial profit took place in 1996 and local farmers started their own small-scale production of this herbal tea two years later.
Available both loose and in tea bags, this tisane is easy to brew at home and requires only a few items. For this recipe, it is recommended that you use 1 tsp (or 1 tea bag) for every 8 oz of water. On top of measuring out the ingredients, you will also need to gather a pot or kettle to boil the water, a teapot to steep the tea, cups to drink the tea out of, and a strainer to catch the leaves (if you are not using a tea bag).
- Bring your measured amount of water to a boil. For the best results, it is suggested that spring water be used.
- While the water is coming to a boil, place the correct amount of tea leaves into the teapot.
- Once the water starts to boil, pour it into the teapot and cover it with the lid. Allow the leaves to steep for 3 to 8 minutes.
- Strain out the leaves and pour the tea into the cups.
Although it takes a lot more time, a cold brew can also be done if you want to enjoy a chilled and refreshing glass of honeybush tea. To do this, you will need a pitcher, 12 hours, and some sunlight.
- Fill the pitcher with the recommended amount of water and the corresponding ratio of leaves.
- Allow the mixture to sit in the sun for two hours. Then, cover it and place the pitcher into the refrigerator for ten hours.
- Before enjoying this tea, strain out the leaves. Pour the tea into a glass filled with ice and enjoy!
If you like a stronger brew, the leaves can also be left in longer to help the flavor develop. Unlike traditional teas, which can end up developing a bitter taste if the leaves are steeped too long, honeybush tea’s flavor will only strengthen.
If you like additives in your tisane, honeybush tea pairs well with milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. Since it is naturally subtly sweet, it does not need any extra sugar. If you prefer a sweeter drink, however, you can add honey, maple syrup, stevia, or white sugar.
Looks, Smell, & Taste
When brewed, this tisane is golden amber in color. The aroma is often described as being warm and woody with subtle notes of fruit and tobacco. Its taste, on the other hand, is categorized as floral, lightly toasty, and subtly sweet like honey.
A serving of honeybush tea, one 8 fl oz glass, has zero calories, fats, carbs, proteins, and sugars. It’s also naturally caffeine-free, which makes it an excellent beverage for people who monitor their caffeine intake. This makes it a great nighttime beverage since it won’t keep you up at night like traditional teas will.
Despite the lack of scientific proof, honeybush tea has been used for years to help with common colds, menopause symptoms, and to aid digestion. Herbalists also consider it to be potentially beneficial for:
- Managing diabetes
- Increasing good cholesterol
- Suppressing coughs
- Improving skin elasticity
This herbal tea, native to South Africa, has been enjoyed for a long time by the indigenous people, colonists, and locals in the region. It wasn’t until much later, during the 1990s, that this tisane started to become commercialized and available to other parts of the world.
Best known for its honey-like taste and potential benefits, honeybush tea is gaining in popularity. Available both loose and in tea bags, it is easy to brew at home and can be enjoyed hot and cold. Since it is caffeine-free, it makes for a great beverage that can be enjoyed during any part of the day. If you love the taste of honey and are looking for herbal teas to experience, honeybush tea will not disappoint!