Those Yanks just love their 'Rooibush'

ILDA JACOBS, Washington | Wednesday

AN American iced tea maker was so impressed with South Africa’s rooibos tea that he’s included it in a range of iced teas for the health conscious - and now he’s scouting for disadvantaged communities in South Africa who can provide him with the tea.

Seth Goldman’s “Honest Tea” iced tea range in Bethesda, Maryland, is a hit amongst Americans wary of sugar-loaded, calorie-laden alternatives.

Honest Tea’s range of flavours now includes the increasingly popular Gold Rush flavour, which blends rooibos, cinnamon, chamomile, other herbs and raw cane sugar.

Goldman receives numerous e-mails from customers curious about its taste.

“Rooibush”, as Goldman calls it, “is very distinctive and its taste has to be well balanced to create a unique blend.”

He first tasted it in a tea blend in California and immediately introduced it to his product range, which includes Hawaiian Ginger, Chinese Green Tea, Guatemala Lemongrass and Mexican Agave Nectar.

The 35-year-old Yale graduate became a tea-lover as an intern for the US State Department in Hong Kong and later as an English lecturer at a university in Beijing China.

In his travels across Russia, China and America, he discovered other teas, which later became blends in the Honest Tea product line, which he runs with business partner Professor Barry Nalebuff of the Yale School of Management.

The product caters for health-conscious consumers seeking natural, as opposed to artificial foods and drinks, but is also aimed at developing poor communities.

The peppermint for the Moroccan peppermint tea is produced by a poor community of Crow Indians in Montana, who benefit directly from sales.

A portion of the sales are donated to the Pretty Shield Foundation, a nonprofit group that assists foster and homeless Native American children.

“Honest Tea fits my interests and needs, because it has a socially responsible element,” Goldman says.

Recently the company introduced tea bags that contain whole leaf tea, instead of chopped up or pulverised tea leaves.

There isn’t a Rooibos whole leaf tea bag yet, but it’s a definite possibility, says Goldman. - African Eye News Service

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