The Cederberg region in Western Cape has seen a significant increase of international visitors, who have come from all around the world to see where our beloved rooibos tea originates from.
Rooibos tea was added to the European Union’s register of products with a protected designation of origin (PDO) in 2021. The PDO label identifies a product with a unique geographic region of origin and a production process that’s determined by that region. The particular region enables the production of a one-of-a-kind product that is essentially characterised by its place of origin. The rooibos plant is currently only farmed in and around the Cederberg mountains in the Western Cape.
Other well-known products that also have PDO status are Champagne from France, Feta cheese from Greece, and Prosciutto di Parma ham from Italy. Rooibos is currently the only PDO product from South Africa.
Not only does this protection status help Cederberg farmers sell more tea on the European markets, but it also draws in more international visitors who are interested in this unique region. Tourists – both local and foreign – want to see firsthand how rooibos plants are farmed and to learn more about the culture and history of this beloved product, and the Cederberg region has definitely felt an increase in interest.
“The registration of Rooibos as a PDO in the EU last year has created more awareness among the large tea-drinking nations in Europe of the origins of Rooibos and that it is unique to and only grows in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape,” said Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC), as reported by BusinessInsider.
“Most of these tea estates are 100+ years old, so staying there and learning about its history, tea culture and heritage is a unique experience in and of itself. When you go on a tea tour, a whole new world starts to unfold. It takes you inside a century-old community that has been farming and processing tea for generations.”
Sanet and Marietjie, founders of the Rooibos Route in Clanwilliam, also confirms an uptick in visitors.
“We’ve hosted tourists from all over the world, but there’s been an influx of German and Swiss tourists of late, and as locals have searched for secluded spots during the pandemic, Clanwilliam has become a favourite among South Africans too,” said Sanet Stander. She further explained that the tourists of late are also more keen on “being part of adventurous, unexplored activities, and tea tourism ticks all these boxes.”
The Rooibos Route offers a comprehensive exploration of rooibos tea, from farm to cup. They highlight and promote all the local farms, establishments, hiking routes, restaurants, shops and accommodation that will enable visitors to fully experience all things rooibos.
So for making the most iconic warm drink in South Africa, the Cederberg region definitely deserves all the love it’s currently receiving from travellers.