Red Bush Tea Goes Green

July 14, 2011

The Rainforest Alliance is pleased to announce that a group of South African farms growing rooibos -- also known as red bush tea -- have earned Rainforest Alliance certification. In addition to being a first for this crop type, the farms are also the first to become Rainforest Alliance Certified™ in South Africa.

The farms in Zeekoevlei Grootport and Driefontein produce rooibos for Rooibos Ltd, whose marketing arm in the US is Herbal Teas International. The rooibos range carrying the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal is now available in all major supermarkets throughout Europe and North America.

“Because rooibos is a new crop for the Rainforest Alliance certification program, and we have not worked in South Africa previously, this is a real milestone for us,” said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. “By reaching out to new territories, the Rainforest Alliance’s certification program continues its important growth and further ensures the protection of our fragile environment and the livelihoods of farmers around the globe.”

Rooibos is already known for its health benefits -- relieving digestive illness and promoting healthy skin, teeth and bones. Consumers can now be reassured that it is also healthy for the environment. Farms that achieve Rainforest Alliance certification have met the environmental, social and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). The SAN standards cover ecosystem conservation, worker rights and safety, wildlife protection, water and soil conservation, agrochemical reduction, decent housing, and legal wages and contracts for workers.

“Increasingly, consumers from all over the world want to know that the products they purchase are produced in a way that supports people, profit and the planet," said Martin Bergh, managing director of Rooibos Ltd. “Independent certification authorities such as the Rainforest Alliance reassure consumers that rooibos has been produced in a way that benefits the environment as well as the lives of the farmers and their workers. People who buy Rainforest Alliance Certified rooibos will know that the farmers who produced these products are not exploiting their laborers, and that they are taking good care of their land and following sound business principles to ensure a sustainable future.”