Humble Beginnings of Honeybush Tea


We live in one of the most diverse landscapes imaginable. From desert to tropical forests, to our very own fynbos biome, is not only beautiful, but also functional. I often marvel at the stories I hear about the people who lived here long ago. Passed down from the native Khoi-san to later inhabitants, what we know as “boere-raad” or herbal remedies have been around for much, much longer than we have.

This brings me to honeybush. I still remember as a child waking up to my grandfather boiling a stove kettle of honeybush each morning. It smelled like holiday and Christmas and family. My grandparents swore by the stuff. In fact, honeybush tea was traditionally used to treat pulmonary ailments, along with heart burn and nausea. There is also evidence to suggest that honeybush could have wider health benefits. Concentrated honeybush extracts have been shown to display anti-diabetic and anti-obesity activities (Dudhia et al., 2013; Pheiffer et al., 2013), as well as protection against UVB-induced skin damage (Petrova et al., 2011). Phyto-oestrogenic activity (Verhoog et al., 2007a; Verhoog et al., 2007b) has also been observed, along with the well-established antioxidant activity (Joubert et al., 2008). This being said, honeybush shouldn’t be considered some kind of miracle medicine, or any kind of drug, for that matter.

Despite their honeybush tea drinking habits, my grandparents still didn’t make it to the age of 100 (Although my grandfather came pretty close). But drinking my cup of honeybush tea, I still detect a hint of holiday, or of Christmas, and always family. I look back on not only my lifetime, or that of my family, but the rich history of our entire country and how it has sustained its people for centuries.  


~ Dr. Lara Alexander, PhD