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Plot to unseat traditional ruler … of teas

CuppaSouth Africans of a certain vintage will remember threats of “die Rooi Gevaar” (the red danger), which many took to be warnings about a secret plot by communists.

On Wednesday another theory started to gain ground as it was confirmed that Rooibos tea was secretly advancing in its plot to overthrow Black Tea as the country’s Number One favourite hot beverage.

As South Africa approaches the important juncture of the August municipal elections it has been revealed that a different kind of change is brewing in homes around the country. News just out confirms that the reds are gaining ground on the blacks … in the tea world.

The South African Tea Industry Landscape Report 2016, a survey from market research agency Insight Survey, on Wednesday blew the lid off this pot. Insight revealed that many in South Africa’s 30.9 million-strong tea-drinking population are shifting allegiance away from their traditional favourite and opting for a home-grown choice that contains fewer toxins.

The survey, for which AMPS interviewed more than 25,000 adults in rural and urban areas around the country, found that the proportion of Black Tea consumers had decreased between 2011 and 2015, from 58.6 percent to 51.5 percent, while the percentage of Rooibos consumers grew from 29.4 percent to 30.9 percent.

Ernest du Toit, spokesperson for the Rooibos Council, says although Black Tea is still the ruling tea in terms of overall consumption, Rooibos is showing growth both locally and abroad.

Stirring the pot further, Du Toit added: “Rooibos is especially high in antioxidants, which help to protect the body against various ailments such as allergies, stomach cramps, colds and flu, as well as more serious illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. It can also reduce one’s risk of contracting cancer.

Tea“Rooibos tea is absolutely free of caffeine and low in tannin, and helps to support iron levels in the body,” he said.

In what seemed to be a veiled reference to the sugar tax announced in the February Budget speech, Du Toit added: “Its naturally sweet and fruity taste means you also don’t need to sweeten it with sugar or artificial sweeteners.”

The demand for Rooibos tea is also growing overseas. South Africa currently exports Rooibos tea to more than 30 countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, the UK and the U.S.. According to Du Toit about half (6,000 to 7,000 tonnes) of Rooibos is exported annually, while the balance is consumed locally.

It may just be a storm in a teacup but the upcoming elections have already caused tensions to boil over in places. It is well-known globally that there is “nothing quite like a cuppa in a crisis”; only time will tell whether the majority reaches for an old favourite or something new next month and beyond.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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