Why is Rooibos tea suddenly big in Japan?
Have you ever noticed Asian tourists in South African supermarkets stuffing their trolleys full with boxes of Rooibos? It often seems strange when you think that they make and drink most of the world's tea. And yes, it may be like going to Australia and buying all the Vegemite you can see (because you never know when you'll be back) but evidently, there is a rising demand in Japan for Rooibos.
"It was introduced to the country at a very high price point as a real luxury product in the 1980s," says Martin Bergh, Chairperson of the SA Rooibos Council. This was at a time when Rooibos was pretty much unknown outside of our borders. With the general heightened awareness of the tea's health benefits, the price point has fortunately dropped and it's now viewed as more of an everyday tea and peeps in Japan are loving it.
Here's a fun fact: between 6000 and 7000 tons of the 18000 tons of Rooibos produced is consumed locally, while the balance is exported to more than 30 countries. More than 2000 tons were shipped to Japan in 2018, making it the largest consignment since it was first introduced.
Rooibos has been in the limelight for a while now; the Rooibos cocktail trend hit bars in 2015 and just last year the tea even had a starring role in a Marvel comic strip. It's fair to say that the Cederberg-grown fynbos is making waves.
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