You are back! It is Day two of Nature’s Gifts and today we bring you some festive cheer – with an African twist of course. Rooibos (pronounced ‘roy-boss’) tea is a red herbal tea that comes from the fermented leaves of the Aspalathus linearis shrub, a plant native to South Africa. Many people enjoy it as a caffeine-free alternative to green or black tea. Rooibos tea has a sweet, delicate, and earthy flavour. Read on to discover how to create a Festive Season Cocktail with this magical African shrub. If you would like to skip down to our wildlife story click here.
Every year, on the 24th of December, when our guests go out on their afternoon drive, our Camp Managers begin to busy themselves with Christmas Eve preparations. One could call them the Londolozi Elves as they magically transform tables into Festive Season dreams. Of course, this entails the laying of the tables, beautifully and carefully adding the themed decor for that year and slowly illuminating up the deck with each candlelit. This is not their only Londolozi Elf duty on this particular evening – there is something else which they need to prepare that same afternoon. This ‘something’ can sometimes be time-consuming and something which can bring out the Camp Manager’s competitive and creative spirit – and that ‘something’ is the Christmas Eve Camp Cocktails.
This has become a tradition over the years. Each camp creates its own, unique cocktails to serve to its guests as a welcome drink just as they step onto the Camp Deck and are transported to an African-Festive-Season-Wonderland. The Londolozi Elves think long and hard about their choice before the day and make sure to order in ingredients, decide on the type of glassware and their presentation well in advance. Special visitors, like our General Manager Duncan, sometimes pop in and judge these cocktails against the other camps and so there is an element of fun competitive spirit here. These thought-out beverages are always very needed after guests have had an exciting afternoon in the bush, refreshed themselves in their suites and are the first thing their taste buds experience before a marvellous feast. These cocktails tie in the adventure and nostalgia of the afternoon and fun and grandeur of the evening ahead – they set the tone for a Festive Season spent in Africa.
Due to the balmy evenings we experience at Londolozi in summer, we often opt for a cooler, more refreshing drink (with an African twist of course) but we know for many of you in the Northern Hemisphere, something cosy to hold while you’re warming up next to the fire is what you’re looking for. For those entertaining over the Festive Season, join the Londolozi Elves and make your own welcome cocktail drink for your guests to enjoy just as they enter your door – setting the tone for your evening with a piece of Africa in tow. Using two special African ingredients – Rooibos and African Honey- enjoy this traditional cocktail hot or cold – with a South African spin. The good news is that rooibos is being brewed around the world and is starting to be found in trendy bars and restaurants, and so you might just be in luck and be able to source it your town/city. Our Cocktail Recipe for you this Festive Season is creamy, sweet and full of holiday cheer.
We've put together a little gift for those entertaining over the Festive Season (or for those who would like to treat themselves).
Join the Londolozi Elves and create Fynbos Honey and African Rooibos Eggnog for your guests to enjoy just as they enter your door - setting the tone for your evening with a piece of Africa in tow.
Download and print this recipe here. Don't forget to let us know how you go in the comments section below...
Here Are 10 Things You Might Not Have Known About Rooibos:
- In spring time the Rooibos bush is covered in beautiful small yellow flowers. After these have been pollinated, they form a seedpod with one seed inside.
- The Rooibos shrub needs to mature for eighteen months before one can harvest the seeds form the bush.
- The collection of Rooibos seeds is a difficult task as the seeds spontaneously burst when they ripen. Historically Rooibos seeds were gathered from anthills as the ants harvested the seeds and carried them back. Today farmers are able to collect the seeds by sifting through the soil that surrounds the plant.
- The Western Cape of South Africa (particularly the Cederberg) provide the perfect conditions for the Rooibos shrub. The conditions in this area are harsh and the Rooibos plant is known to be a hardy shrub, able to survive the toughest conditions. People have tried to grow this plant in other parts of the world with little success.
- Since 2014, Rooibos has had a geographical indicator status, and so only plant matter from a defined area in the Cederberg in South Africa can be called Rooibos.
- This proudly South African product is exported to over 30 countries worldwide.
- After harvesting the cuttings are bruised and fermented for 12 hours at 34°C – 38°C. It’s during this time that the aroma and characteristic red colour of the Rooibos tea develops.
- Rooibos is great for your health! This shrub is full of flavonoids, in particular aspalathin, which is a powerful antioxidant only found in this plant. It is also caffeine-free, low in tannins, is theine-free, preservative-free, low in sodium, and 100% natural – and so many cups of Rooibos tea can be enjoyed throughout the day.
- The South African Rooibos Council states: “The polyphenols in Rooibos have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anti-mutagenic properties. These phenolic compounds protect the body from free radicals which can cause cancer and heart disease.”
- Rooibos is also known to contain natural hydroxy acid which is great for the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema and acne. Currently there are also many ongoing research studies on the anti-aging properties of Rooibos tea. In Japan, Rooibos is known as ‘Long Life Tea’.
Ode to Rooibos
trying to catch your essence
the African flavour…
the wild aroma
that makes you rare
that makes you unique
a hardened shrub
West Coast Spirit
spreading its indigenous roots
in countries far from home
I watch you flower
see your seasons and
contently sip your healing words
you’re my cuppa…
Now that we’ve given you a little idea on how to add an extra sparkle to your Festive Season – we hope that you make the most delicious African-inspired Eggnog and that you carry a little African spirit with during the holidays. Do share with us your welcome cocktail by tagging us on Instagram – we’d love to see how you go.
Lessons from the Wild – Ranger Kyle Gordon
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
These words, an excerpt from “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry, resonate deeply with me. I think more so because the natural world was not always the place it is for me now. I never knew the serenity, the stillness, that now suffuses my soul when I am away from the grasp of urban life.
I was brought up in a small town in one of the most beautiful places on a continent spoilt with an abundance of beauty, the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. I found myself immersed in nature and all its splendor, yet somehow I felt separate from it; the majority of the myriad wonders offered to me by mother nature passed over my young head. I never truly appreciated the natural world, never acknowledged its importance to me, and more importantly, to us all.
But now, 10 years on, a sense of absolute gratification and contentment, settles over me whenever I find myself in a truly wild place. These wild places, at once so mysterious but so familiar still resonate with me and all of the guests I have driven so far. It is the old knowing found in our DNA that pulls us all back to the wilderness.
Because when we are here, we are transported back in time to witness something ancient yet still preserved. Here, we get to see a little piece of harmony. Self-regulating, pure and in balance. That old lesson of taking only what you need and sinking into the abundance of always having enough.
In these wild places, is where we find that connection to a deep-rooted biophilia that lies only semi-dormant in every single one of us. Being out here has taught me an appreciation for the many layers of nature from the infinitesimal to the infinite. I go out into nature and, for a time, and I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.