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The first African PDO recognized by the EU arrives

Rooibos PDO/Red Bush PDO registered in the Ig Ue list

The European strategy for the enlargement of the Geographical Indications system continues successfully, also through the recognition of non-EU products

With today's registration of Rooibos PDO/Red Bush PDO from South Africa, 17 non-EU countries have already registered their product through the European regulation on PDOs and PGIs. "This is the first DO ever on the African continent - comments Mauro Rosati , general manager of the Qualivita Foundation -, which in the medium term could experience an unprecedented development in the area of Geographical Indications, both in terms of local growth and property law intellectual. Africa will certainly also bring a basket of completely new types of products, thus strengthening the entire European system”.

The name Rooibos indicates a drink obtained through the infusion of dried leaves or stems of the Aspalathus linearis plant grown and harvested in the Wester Cape province in South Africa, whose name derives from a word of the Afrikaans language used by Dutch settlers in South Africa. In common parlance it is called red tea, as the color of its leaves tends to red. The characteristics of this drink, in some respects similar to tea, are a modest content of tannins and absence of theine and an important amount of antioxidants. The production area called Cederberg, is one of the six smallest floristic kingdoms in the world, as well as one of the richest places in terms of variety, density and number of endemic plant species, characterized by its typical vegetation called Fynbos. Aspalathus linearis, from which Rooibos PDO is obtained, is one of the few Fynbos plants that are economically important because it has successfully achieved, through human intervention, the transition from wild to cultivated crops.

The indigenous peoples of the Khoisan from western South Africa have been using the drink made with Rooibos for centuries. For the first time the use of the drink was reported by the botanist Carl Humberg in 1772, but only in the early 1900s was more attention paid to this product, when Benjamin Ginsberg, a South African settler of Russian origin, convinced a local doctor to experience the cultivation of the plant. To start the cultivation, the local population was asked to look for the tiny seeds of Rooibos. At one point a Khoi woman showed up with a matchbox full of seeds. His secret was soon revealed which lay in following the ants who dragged Rooibos seeds into their nests, opened nests to collect the seeds and left some for the ants to survive. This method of collecting seeds is still used by some seed collectors.


In the Official Journal of the European Union L 190 of 31/05/2021 the denomination Rooibos PDO / Red Bush PDO was registered which, in the Food sector, is the number 1 of the PDOs of South Africa and the number 1 in the total of the Agri-food Geographical Indications. South African

South Africa - Rooibos PDO / Red Bush PDO

Class 1.8. Other products of Annex I to the Treaty (spices, etc.)

Reg. (EU) 2021/864 of 28/05/2021 - OJEU L 190 of 31/05/2021

Product description The Rooibos PDO denomination can only be used to designate the dried leaves and stems of 100% pure Rooibos PDO / Red Bush PDO, obtained from the cultivation of Aspalathus linearis. Rooibos PDO comes in two varieties, the first with oxidized dried Aspalathus linearis leaves and stems, the second with green (non-oxidized) green leaves and Aspalathus linearis stems.

Appearance and flavor With oxidized leaves and dried Aspalathus linearis stems, Rooibos PDO has a color ranging from light brown to yellow to bright brick red. With the dried leaves and stems of Aspalathus linearis not oxidized in the green Rooibos PDO there is no sign of browning or oxidation. The leaves are predominantly light green in color and include thin reddish brown stems as well as white woody bits. It is characterized by having a pleasant, slightly sweet taste with hints of honey, caramel, fruity, floral and spicy. Unlike black tea and green tea, rooibos is naturally caffeine-free.

Production area The production area of Rooibos PDO extends in the Western Cape province in the local municipalities of Bergrivier, Breede Valley, Cape Agulhas, Cederberg, Cape Town, Drakenstein, Langeberg, Matzikamma, Overstrand, Saldanha Bay, Stellenbosch, Swartland, Swellendam, Theewaterskloof and Witzenberg; in the Northern Cape province the local municipality of Hantam, located in South Africa. Marketing Rooibos PDO can be blended with tea, infusions and other products. The labeling of such products must comply with the rules applicable to the labeling of products in the territory where the product is marketed.

Source: Qualivita Foundation

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EFA News - European Food Agency