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Rooibos - the game-changing energy booster

The early release of the action-packed virtual survival game called Enshrouded caused 1 million users to become hysterical at the prospects of a game that puts a unique fynbos called Rooibos (pronounced roy-bus) (ICYMI, 2024) on the centre stage. 

Apparently, the purpose of the game is to gather limited resources and harvest rare plants, such as Rooibos, to boost energy and to survive in a lost kingdom (Brederode, 2024). You can read more about this game on gamer guides by clicking here.

Rooibos tea leaves

Just in case you double-checked if you are still on Travel Buddies Lifestyle, don’t panic! This article is not about virtual games. But, we did think that this is a perfect opportunity to provide context on how the release of the game has created a renewed interest in Rooibos. In addition, we will tell you a bit about its origins, its benefits and the beautiful corner of our country where Rooibos comes from.

Did you know that Rooibos is grown exclusively in South Africa and exported to the top five importers, namely Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom? It is even exported to China, which is the world’s largest consumer of tea worldwide (Gernetzky, 2024).

What is the hype around Rooibos?

The hype around Rooibos’ health benefits peaked when the United States listed it as one of the 50 healthiest foods of all time (Sifferlin, 2016). Click here to see what the other 49 foods are.

Moreover, while doing my research for this article, I noticed that drinking Rooibos tea is becoming a stylish trend worldwide, even though it’s not really a tea but rather an herbal infusion made from the Aspalathus linearis plant, which flourishes in the wild. For decades, the Khoisan enjoyed it as a refreshing drink (they are native to the warmest region in South Africa) and depended on it for its medicinal purposes.

What does ‘protected designation of origin’ (PDO) mean?

In 2021, Rooibos became the first African food to be included on the European Union’s list of protected designation of origin (PDO). This initiative ensures that the protected name is exclusively linked to the product’s geographical origin. For example, the word Champagne is solely linked to France, and Proscuitto di Parma is exclusively linked to Italy, just as Rooibos is linked to South Africa. Thus, no other country may claim to produce Champagne, Rooibos or Proscuitto di Parma. 

Did you notice Champagne is called sparkling wine in South Africa? Additionally, two more products from South Africa enjoy similar status, namely Honeybush and Karoo meat of origin in both the EU and UK (Gov.UK, 2020; Republic of South Africa, Department Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, 2023 )

Where does Rooibos come from?

Rooibos is indigenous to South Africa’s Cape Floral Kingdom. Fynbos form about 80% of the plant species in the region, spanning across the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces. There are over 8500 species of fynbos. Table Mountain alone supports about 2200 species of fynbos, more than the entire United Kingdom. Although fynbos only covers about 6% of Southern  Africa, it forms about half of the floral species in the sub-continent.

The fynbos ecoregions are divided into two areas: the lowland fynbos (below 300m, and Montane Fynbos (above 300m).

Rooibos naturally grows wild in the Cederberg ecoregion. Cederberg consists of wonderous valleys, rock formations meticulously carved by time, and majestic mountains standing guard over the pristine wilderness. The region is about three hours north of Cape Town and is definitely worth a visit.

History of Rooibos

Rooibos captured the attention of medical doctor and nature lover Dr Le Fras Nortier in the early 20th Century when he researched the plant’s medicinal value and agricultural potential. In 1968, Annique Theron made world headlines when she claimed that Rooibos soothed her baby’s colic (Rooibos Council, 2024). Since then, Annique has been a household name. You can read more about Annique Rooibos’s success story by clicking here.

In 1984, Rooibos made headlines again, this time in Japan, for its anti-ageing properties. Japan is believed to be one of the healthiest and longest-living nations and also the nation with the highest life expectancy in the world (Oishya.com, 2024). Okinawa, in particular, is one of the world’s Blue Zones renowned for longevity. There is currently a series on Netflix called “Live to 100 – Secrets of the Blue Zones”.

The statistics fascinated me, and I started researching the Japanese diet. I learned that Okinawa, in Japan, has “the highest number of centenarians in the world and the lowest risk of age-related diseases” (Shubrook, 2024, para. 7), partly due to the Japanese diet. The Japanese diet consists of more fish than meat, plenty of vegetables, pickled and fermented foods, and small portions of rice (Oishya.com, 2024; Okumura, 2020; Shubrook, 2024). Moreover, they consume a lot of green tea, less sugar, and eat small portions. You may wish to read more about the Hara Hachi Bu principle, which means only to eat until you are 80% full.

Size does matter, when it comes to food

What surprised me the most was that a small size of McDonald’s in the United States is argued to be a large size in Japan (Okumura, 2020). This argument supports the statement ‘size does matter’ (tongue in cheek). You may ask what the Japanese diet has to do with Rooibos. Well, let us continue, and you will shortly understand the significance.

What are the health benefits of Rooibos?

It is believed that the sweet, caffeine-free earthly tea holds significant benefits for our health. For example, Rooibos is celebrated worldwide for its rich nutrients and beneficial polyphenols and flavonoids that have potent anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and anti-viral benefits (Landers, 2015). In layperson’s terms, it means that Rooibos boosts our immune system, improves our digestion, helps us maintain a healthy weight, and provides protection against chronic diseases (Randell et al., 2024; Rooibos Council, 2024; Travislyle, 2024.). 

In addition, several studies investigated the soothing effects of Rooibos on our nervous system and its benefits in lowering our stress and anxiety levels. For these reasons, this highly acclaimed tea is increasingly becoming an important ingredient in cosmetics and several health foods and drinks. This brings me to our next discovery.

Ice Boat – a revolutionary rooibos-infused drink

Ice Boat Ice tea energy drink after a game of padel
Ice Boat is the perfect companion for a game of padel

Last week, I caught up with Roelf Conradie, one of the co-founders of Ice Boat (and co-owner of Ice Boat with his mom and dad), to tell me more about their new Vitamin Enriched Rooibos Ice Tea. I was eager to find out if it was just another energy drink packed with caffeine and calories or something extraordinary as it seemed at first sight. I also wanted to learn more about their vision and mission to establish Ice Boat as a household name and revolutionise the beverage industry in South Africa by offering a healthy alternative that would make people more conscious about what they are consuming.

Roelf was eager to tell me more about their ‘lifestyle enhancer’ soft drink, called Ice Boat, which is set to break frontiers in the South African beverage market – from there, the name Ice Boat. I wanted to know from Roelf what makes Ice Boat unique and why people should buy it.

As the proud inventor, he pointed out that their vegan-friendly, Rooibos-infused energy drink is sugar-free and enhanced with essential B Vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, that not only assist consumers in maintaining good health but also support the immune system. I was surprised to learn that Ice Boat also fortified the beverage with a healthy addition of Vitamin C, which is known for its anti-oxidant benefits that protect us against the effects of free radicals.  

I tasted their two delicious flavours, Lemon and Ginger and Frosty Fruit, which are currently on the market and can honestly say they exceeded my expectations. It is funky, stylish, tasty, and refreshing. I am a converted Ice Boat drinker!

You should also head over to their online store and become part of the Ice Boat generation. A12 pack of 330ml cans sell for R260.87

Bernie enjoying a game of padel with the refreshing Ice Boat Ice Tea
Bernie enjoying a game of padel with the refreshing Ice Boat Ice Tea

Wrapping up with a glass of Rooibos

Similar to its properties in the virtual game Enshrouded, Rooibos has some healthy benefits. Albeit not as quick or dramatic, it makes for a healthy and tasty drink hailing from the shores of South Africa.

 

I am sold on Ice Boat as a healthy alternative iced tea packed with essential health benefits. I loved that it gave me a much-needed lift during challenging days without making me feel the need to crash when the sugar wears off, like with most other sugary energy drinks. I do not know much about the art of Ice Boating besides that it refers to sailing on metal runners over ice. I do know that Ice Boat is beyond tasty, particularly with ice, or as we South Africans say, “met eish ja”.

Read more about Rooibos' health benefits

An introduction to the nature and protection of Geographical Indications and Designations of Origin in South Africa under the Agricultural Product Standards Act: A training handout prepared for the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. (2023). Government Printers.

Brederode, W. (2024). Popular new German video game features rooibos as a booster. News24. https://www.news24.com/fin24/companies/popular-new-german-video-game-features-rooibos-as-a-booster-20240218

Gov.UK. (2020). Protected geographical food and drink names. Gov.Uk. https://www.gov.uk/protected-food-drink-names?register%5B%5D=foods-designated-origin-and-geographical-indication&register%5B%5D=foods-traditional-speciality-guaranteed&register%5B%5D=spirit-drinks&country_of_origin%5B%5D=south-africa

ICYMI: Rooibos revolutionises the virtual gaming experience. (2024). FoodforMzansi.Co.Za. https://www.foodformzansi.co.za/icymi-rooibos-revolutionises-the-virtual-gaming-experience/

Landers, L. (2015). Rooibos tea: The myth and the magic. KQED. https://www.kqed.org/bayareabites/95791/rooibos-tea-the-myth-and-the-magic

Oishya.com. (2024). Why Japanese diet is considered so healthy? Oishya.Com. https://oishya.com/journal/why-japanese-diet-is-considered-so-healthy/

Okumura, K. (2020). The psychology behind why Japanese people are so healthy. Heared.Medium.Com. https://heated.medium.com/the-psychology-behind-why-japanese-people-are-so-healthy-928165eae16a

Rooibos Council. (2024). Rooibos History. https://sarooibos.co.za/history/#:~:text=Carl%20Thunberg%2C%20a%20botanist%20from,the%20first%20exporter%20of%20Rooibos.

Shubrook, N. (2024). Why is the Japanese diet so healthy? BBCgoodfood.Com. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/why-japanese-diet-so-healthy

Sifferlin, . (2016). The 50 healthiest foods of all time. Time.Com. https://time.com/3724505/50-healthiest-foods/

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About Author

As a freelance travel journalist and seasoned business professional, Bernie van der Linde has made it her mission to explore the world's most unique and luxurious destinations. With a PhD in business studies from the University of South Africa, Bernie has channeled her passion for travel, web design, and writing into founding the travel blog Travel Buddies Lifestyle. Here, she shares her adventures alongside her best friend and travel business partner, Petra, who seamlessly translate and compile articles relevant to their German and European audience.

Bernie's love for exploring new places has taken her to some of the world's most exotic locations. Whether gazing out at the glittering skyline of Dubai or enjoying the tranquillity of a private beach in Mauritius, Bernie is always looking for unique experiences that will inspire and entice her readers to travel.

Through her thoughtful writing and unparalleled passion for travel, Bernie van der Linde has made a name for herself in the world of travel writing. Her knack for uncovering hidden gems and sharing her experiences with her readers has made her a trusted source of inspiration for those looking to explore the world in style.

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