Rooibos is Afrikaans for “red bush” and is grown only in a small area in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape province of South Africa. Harvested during the summer time, green Rooibos is picked, bruised, then cut using a tobacco cutting machine. It is fermented in mounds and then spread out to slowly dry in the sunlight. This enhances the flavor of tea and gives it a vibrant red color. In South Africa, it is more common to drink Rooibos with milk and sugar, but elsewhere it is usually served without. The flavor of Rooibos tea is often described as being sweet (without sugar added) and slightly nutty. Preparation of Rooibos tea is essentially the same as black tea save that the flavor is improved by longer brewing. The resulting liquor is a reddish brown color, explaining why Rooibos is sometimes referred to as “red tea.” Several coffee shops in South Africa have recently begun to sell red espresso, which is concentrated Rooibos served and presented in the style of ordinary espresso. This has given rise to Rooibos-based variations of coffee drinks such as red lattes and red cappuccinos.
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