A taste of honey
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CTA. 1997. A taste of honey. Spore 71. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48856
A small tree belonging to the Cyclopias family and known as honey bush tea can be found growing wild throughout the southernmost regions of South Africa. The rural people in the areas where it grows have, for centuries, harvested its leaves and...
A small tree belonging to the Cyclopias family and known as honey bush tea can be found growing wild throughout the southern most regions of South Africa. The rural people in the areas where it grows have, for centuries, harvested its leaves and flowers to make a strong infusion, or tisane, which is much appreciated for its delicate scent of honey. Known for its properties as an expectorant and a stimulant, the infusion also acts as an aperitif, which is why it is called 'hunger tea'. It also has the advantage of containing no caffeine and very little tannin: this makes it a suitable drink for children and for people suffering from digestive or cardiac problems. South Africa's interest in the honey bush tea has grown as a result of increasing demand from overseas markets, notably Japan and Germany. The Agricultural Research Council, in particular INFRUITEC (Stellenbosch Institute of Fruit Technology), has identified the plant as a source of potential revenue for the poorest within the rural population. The Institute has decided to establish commercial plantations and small processing units suitable, at this stage, for responding only to the local market. Scientists have selected sites where the infusion is traditionally produced but which lack other employment opportunities. ARC-INFRUITEC has developed methods of processing Cyclopia which require only a minimum of technical support. This means that farmers and village communities with very limited resources are nevertheless able to undertake production. The challenge is not only an economic one. In the past, overexploitation of wild Cyclopia has had a negative effect on its survival, to the point of extinction in some places. In order to ensure that increased production is sustainable, ARC-INFRUITEC is collaborating with the National Botanical Institute, which is currently working on the experimental reintroduction of several varieties at the chosen sites. Elizabeth Joubert, ARC-INFRUITEC Stellenbosch Jaco du Toit, Department of Food Science University of Stellenbosch, SOUTH AFRICA