The Sweet History of Genadendal’s Honeybush Tea

Posted by Nicola Pierce-Kirkland on Thursday, February 27, 2014 with No comments
Genadendal is one of the most authentically preserved historical church squares in South Africa. You can’t help but be seduced by an extraordinary 21 national monuments, a major hats-off to the town and South Africa’s historical past. It requires little imagination to envision what it must have been like by the early 1900s. By this time Genadendal was the largest settlement in the Cape Colony outside of Cape Town and, quite possibly, the most progressive. The Genadendal Museum is a good place to start your walking journey to familiarize yourself with some of the unique aspects of the place. It’s also the perfect end point as this is where you’ll purchase some locally produced honeybush tea.

Genadendal’s traditional method tea plantation

For decades the Genadendal community have been harvesting and processing a particular species of honeybush called Cyclopia maculata. Honeybush flowers smell like honey, hence the name. In order to preserve the historical connection between honeybush tea and the community the Genadendal Mission Museum keeps a small plantation. Stroll around to the back of the parsonage garden to see it for yourself. Tea is grown, nurtured and processed using traditional, organic methods and small quantities are sold at the Museum shop.

How to make a honeybush cuppa

Honeybush tea farming is a delicate process and requires knowledge, meticulous soil management and care. However, brewing and consuming the stuff is far simpler. You just need to make a purchase and the rest can all happen in the comfort of your own home. To enjoy hot, prepare it as you would any other herbal loose-leaf tea and consume with or without milk and with our without honey, sugar or sweetener. The longer it brews the stronger it gets. While the taste is often compared to rooibos, honeybush is slightly sweeter and has an earthier, fuller body. It also has numerous restorative and health properties. Many tea processors often blend honeybush with rooibos and other herbal teas to achieve a variety of health-promoting beverages.

Quick and seemingly nasty tip

It’s also refreshingly good as an iced tea. The local full flavoured, special recipe, a fruity and full-bodied combination of honeybush tea and lemon syrup can also be purchased from the Mission Museum shop. Keep it chilled and, if you can resist, leave it for a couple of days to ferment and turn into a sparkling drink. Take care to tuck more than one bottle under your arm before you leave though; you won’t feel as generous about sharing once you’ve sampled it for yourself.

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