In 1772, Swedish naturalist Carl Thunberg noted, "the country people made tea" from a plant related to rooibos or redbush. Traditionally, the local people would climb the mountains and cut the fine, needle-like leaves from wild rooibos plants.[citation needed] They then rolled the bunches of leaves into hessian bags and brought them down the steep slopes using donkeys. The leaves were then chopped with axes and bruised with hammers, before being left to dry in the sun.

Rooibos tea is anti-inflammatory in nature, which means that it reduces blood pressure and scavenges free radicals like other antioxidants. Quercetin, another powerful antioxidant found in rooibos tea, has been linked to preventing a wide variety of heart conditions. It promotes an increase in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and inhibits the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from binding to the walls of arteries and blood vessels.