Mma Ramotswe and Redbush Tea: A Review
For those of you not familiar with Mma Precious Ramotswe of Botswana, let me introduce you! She is the delightful, “traditionally built” (fat) heroine of the equally delightful detective series, written by Alexander McCall Smith: The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I have read every single one of this series, and am eager for more, do you hear me Mr. McCall Smith?
Do you remember that wonderful movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy?” with the Bushmen of the Kalahari? Well, Botswana borders on the Kalahari, and so even though the Bushmen are nomads, some can be found in Botswana as well, where they call them the San people.
Where is Botswana?
Botswana is a small, landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordered by the Kalahari Desert to the west. It is near to Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. It is mostly a dry country, but it also has periods of rain in the “rainy season”. Botswana, from what I understand, now has the largest, protected elephant population in Africa. They are very protective of their animals and lands, and poachers are not welcome here.
Botswana was formerly called the Bechuanaland Protectorate, and was a Kingdom, ruled by a long, unbreaking link of Kings in that region. It became a Protectorate under the U.K. when it was threatened with invasion by the Boers and Germans in South Africa. It was renamed Botswana in 1966.
Rooibois (Redbush) Tea
Anyway, enough history. In this modern era, according to the series, Mma Ramotswe and her Assistant Detective, Grace, practically live on Redbush Tea, drinking about 7 cups each per day! Rooibos (pronounced Roy-bus) originates in South Africa. This tea is called just “bush tea” in local areas, but because of its now worldwide popularity, it is more and more being called Redbush or Rooibois Tea. The leaves of this bush are fermented, leading to the recognizable reddish color.
This Redbush (Rooibos) Tea, is brewed the same way as black tea, and traditionally served with milk and sugar. Nowadays, more people are drinking it with lemon and honey.
The global reach of Rooibos is now so huge, that many, many tea companies have their own version of this tea. One particular favorite of mine, is the Revolution Tea brand of Rooibois, both flavored and unflavored.
When I first tasted Rooibos tea many years ago, I wasn’t sure if I liked it! It was the unflavored kind, but to me if felt as if I was drinking a hot infusion of sweet cedar chips! I was not really impressed. But, as I got more into exotic teas, and tried more varieties of Rooibos, I really began to love it! Matter of fact, I’ve been drinking Revolution’s Redbush/Caramel Tea while writing this blog post.
Mma Ramotswe and Grace (Precious and Grace) Mma Ramotswe No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Anyway, Precious and Grace, swear they do their best thinking and detective work, over a steaming mug of Redbush tea.
Then, they go out and catch the villains! Not real villains like we’re used to in modern day detective fiction, but villains for their part of the world — cattle stealers, straying husbands, thieving contractors, troublesome mechanics, talking shoes, all very gentle and philosophical! Never any violence, unlike most modern day detective series.
What I also love about this series, is the certainty Mma Ramotswe feels that Botswana is the absolute center of the Universe! She, and other residents there, know that other places exist, and in fact they have fairly strong feelings about places like South Africa or Swaziland, but Botswana is where their heart and soul is, and they don’t want to live anywhere else!
Precious and Grace also drink Redbush tea with a series favorite, Fruit Cake. I was so enamored with the descriptions of them chowing down on this dense fruit cake, that I set out to create my own recipe. I didn’t have to though, because the Redbush Tea Company came out with their version, and here it is!
Mma Ramotswe’s Fruit Cake Recipe
9 oz. Mixed Dried Fruit 4 oz. Chopped Almonds
9 oz. Soft Butter 7 oz. Granulated Sugar
4 Eggs 11 oz. Flour
4 oz. Corn Flour 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
Grated Rind of One Lemon Icing Sugar to Dust
Grease a 10 inch Baking Tin. Preheat Oven to 180 Degrees C.
Cream Butter and Sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in each one thoroughly before adding the next one. Sift flour, corn flour and baking powder over butter mixture. Once blended together, add fruit mixture, almonds and lemon rind. Pour batter into baking tin, smooth over the top of the batter.
Bake for 1 Hour, 15 Mins.
Remove and cool. Dust with icing sugar.
I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but being a chef, I would be inclined to add one-half cup milk or coconut milk, to prevent it from being too dry. I also will use raisins, dried apricots, cherries and dried plums, as my dried fruit! Let me know your own version as well. Enjoy a nice thick slice of Fruit Cake, with your own pot of Rooibos Tea! I will let you know how my version of the eponymous Fruit Cake came out. I am looking forward to trying this, and also implementing in my tearoom, a regular Mma Ramotswe day, where we discuss the books, look at slides of Botswana, and have a Botswana style tea, including of course the Fruit Cake! 🙂
Other Versions of Rooibos (Redbush) Tea
There is also a “green” Rooibos Tea, is processed differently from the red Rooibos tea. To get green Rooibos, the leaves from the bush are treated to prevent oxidation, so it doesn’t develop the reddish color, and the tea taste is lighter, fresher more grassy. It is never bitter, and like its sibling, has no caffeine, little tannins and a slight cinnamon flavor. Adagio Teas, that creative tea line, also has a wonderful Green Rooibos Loose Leaf Tea, as well as the regular red Rooibos Loose Leaf Tea.
The Republic of Tea, also has an amazing Green Rooibois Tea and also a wonderful Double Red Rooibois Tea! You must really get to know this tea line, they are absolutely superb. And, they are conveniently packed in their, unbleached flow through bags for ease and convenience. Tea bags today, are not the heavy, bleached harmful bags of yesteryear. The convenience for some, is that you don’t need to have a teapot to brew these teas, but you still get all the wonderful, aroma and taste.
The aforementioned Revolution Tea, also has the wonderful Honeybush Caramel, in flow through bags. These newer flow through bags, are not like the old tea bags of yesteryear (still to be found in some tea companies). These flow through bags are made from a light, eco-friendly material, tend to be pyramid shape, and allow for the fullness of tea development, without the mess. I highly recommend them, as a good alternative to loose leaf teas sometimes.
I cannot emphasize how wonderful and fortunate it is that we are living in a time when tea is appreciated and the ever growing tea market means that we can have myriads of teas to try, just by clicking a few convenient buttons, most of the time. Hooray for the love of tea! Please, follow along and let’s continue this exciting tea journey together.
So now, we have a few different Rooibos Teas to choose from and sample. I hope you have a wonderful time with your sampling. You may want to give yourself a pat on the back while doing so because tea can improve your health in so many, many ways!
- Promote digestionBob Marley
- improve the immune system
- help prevent inflammation
- help prevent disease
- great for the skin
Happy Sipping! Please share your experiences with all of us in the Comments Section below, and also please suggest which of the many teas you might like to hear more of. Thanks for the follow, and may your journey be filled with peace and joy.