One of South Africa’s favourite and rarest indigenous herbal teas, Honeybush, is in danger of extinction. Conservationists blame unsustainable harvesting practices over the past decade.
The Honeybush plant grows naturally in the mountain ranges of the Southern and Eastern Cape. Six of its 23 species are used commercially, one to make herbal tea. Just like its cousin, the famous rooibos tea, Honeybush tea is rich in anti-oxidants, with several health benefits.
Currently there are about 200 hectares of cultivated Honeybush and this has authorities concerned.
George Municipality’s Carli Bunding-Venter says, “The nature conservation entities in both the Western and Eastern Cape should be commended for the work they doing to try and work with the industry to protect it for the long run. These include things like permits and regulations.”
Nurseries have been built to encourage the development of plantations.
Honeybush Tea’s Marius van Wyk says, “They grow it for us. They bringing back the tea to us… at the moment we easily up to 90% of the tea coming in is from plantations because we don’t want to put pressure on the natural tea. That’s the reason why we doing plantations and the main thing about plantations is that u can do your whole planning because you know exactly how much u get per hectare.”
Demand for Honeybush Tea far outweighs supply. Eighty percent of it is exported to the US,Germany and the UK.
The race is to ensure the Honeybush plant thrives and delighting many tea lovers with its soothing qualities.