Rooibos or Red Bush might be a common beverage found in tea cups across South Africa, but it is not a true tea. And 19th century London tea traders did not welcome the import to their stage.
Proceedings at the London Auction Room following the demise of the East India Company were most carried on in a polite and dignified manner, in keeping with the theme of the country’s favored beverage and ritual. All that gentility was put to the test on December 21, 1867 when Mr. George Townend of Townend Brothers, rashly offered a parcel of “bush tea” from Natal, a province of South Africa.
Known today as Rooibos or Red Bush, this native herb is not a true tea and has nothing to do with Camellia sinensis, the tea plant.
The appearance of two samples of Rooibos in the middle of the room was greeted with yells of protest.