South Africa’s rooibos tea made history by becoming the first African product to be granted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status in the European Union.
EU Ambassador to South Africa, Riina Kionka, on Monday handed over a certificate to the rooibos industry that recognizes its registration for PDO during a ceremony presided over by Alan Winde, Premier of Western Cape Province of South Africa.
The registration enables producers to include a PDO logo for rooibos on their products and recognizes that rooibos can only be used to refer to the dried leaves of pure rooibos farmed in the relevant municipalities of the Western and Northern Cape provinces.
It will create greater production recognition and demand, thereby stimulating job creation, read a media release received from the Western Cape government.
Indigenous to the country’s Cederberg region, rooibos has been used by local communities to brew tea for centuries. The region is the only place in the world where rooibos grows naturally, according to the South African Rooibos Council.
Europe has “significant demand” for rooibos, with Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium and Italy being its top importers.
The tea is gaining popularity on the global markets as a caffeine-free herbal tea and antioxidant food ingredient.