Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) beyond the farm gate: From herbal tea to potential phytopharmaceutical
Article in Press
Aspalathus linearis (Burm.f.) Dahlg. (Fabaceae, Tribe Crotalarieae), an endemic South African fynbos species, is cultivated to produce the well-known herbal tea, rooibos. It is currently sold in more than 37 countries with Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States of America representing 86% of the export market in 2010. Its caffeine-free and comparatively low tannin status, combined with its potential health-promoting properties, most notably antioxidant activity, contributes to its popularity. First marketed in 1904 in its fermented (oxidised) form, green rooibos is a new product recently on the market. The utilisation of rooibos has also moved beyond a herbal tea to intermediate value-added products such as extracts for the beverage, food, nutraceutical and cosmetic markets. Its potential as a phytopharmaceutical, shown in recent scientific studies, has not yet been exploited. This review focuses on past and current research aimed at enhancing the value of rooibos herbal tea as a specialised, niche product and expanding its value-adding potential against the background of its traditional use and the current market. The focus falls specifically on aspects such as composition, processing, quality and rooibos as food and potential medicine. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.