Rooibos gets a kick

Rooibos gets a kick

2014-10-20 16:23

Johannesburg - Fans of rooibos and honeybush tea can anticipate more bite with their antioxidants as the local fynbos plants are now being used to make alcoholic beverages.

Stellenbosch-based Red Dawn IP Holdings, which is owned by winemakers Audacia and Koperatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging van Zuid-Afrika, announced on Monday that it had patented "a game changing way" of producing alcoholic beverages using the fynbos plants.

"Our patent covers the making of all wine, beer and cider products by adding rooibos and honeybush plant material during manufacturing," Red Dawn director Trevor Strydom said in a statement.

"We have also trademarked the terms Rooibos Wine, Rooibos Beer and Rooibos Cider, amongst other marks."

Patent set for ''imminent grant"

Strydom said the patent was set for an imminent grant.

This would mean that no other South African entity could use the indigenous plants, or their derivatives, for alcoholic beverage production according to the patented process, unless it was done under licence from Red Dawn.

"We have gotten wind of others attempting something similar, but the fact is that we are the patent proprietor," said Strydom.

He said the innovation was subject to a further 83 pending patent applications worldwide.

"As soon as these are approved the same restrictions will hold for international production and sales," he said.

One of the aims of the new process of using the fynbos plants was to eliminate synthetic preservatives usually added to alcoholic beverages.

"Scientific research... indicates that powerful antioxidants found in these indigenous plant materials may assist in preserving them naturally."

Antioxidants are substances that are capable of counteracting the normal, but damaging effects caused by oxidation, which is the interaction between oxygen molecules and all the different substances they come into contact with.

According to Strydom this preservation process could potentially mean an entire new way of making wine and other beverages.

"Equally importantly, we have found that the addition of rooibos and honeybush woods in both a natural and toasted format improves and enhances aroma, taste and/or mouth-feel of wine, beer and cider," he said.

"Consumer feedback on products we have created according to our patented processes thus far has been overwhelmingly positive."

Geographic indicator

In July rooibos tea secured geographic indicator status in the long-awaited economic partnership agreement between southern African nations and the European Union.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said at the time: "it will be the rooibos tea manufacturers of South Africa which will have ownership of that particular name and that term will be applicable only to products that come from and are approved by us".

Davies termed the designation significant, given the widespread popularity rooibos had acquired in Europe in recent years.

Last year, the SA Rooibos Council hurriedly managed to stop an attempt by a French company - the Compagnie de Trucy - to trademark the name, fearing that it could secure exclusive use.

The same trademark protection given to rooibos, applied to honeybush and Karoo lamb - meaning that only products produced in those areas can be marketed under those trade names.

Strydom said this designation was significant.

"Rooibos and honeybush have historically been cultivated and produced exclusively in South Africa. Their characteristics and properties are the result of our unique climate and geography," he said.

"Europe has traditionally used geographical indication protection for products such as French Champagne or Greek Feta. Now we South Africans can do the same - our range of rooibos and honeybush alcoholic beverages are at the forefront of marketing brand South Africa in a positive and unique way."

  • michael.kleber.376 - 2014-10-20 16:35

    It's sacrilege

      Ike Jakson - 2014-10-20 17:25

      Maybe in a way, yes Michael but this Article took me down memory land and I am sitting here as a young child born in Clanwilliam, the land of both our parents and many generations before them; that was a long time ago, long before politics became important, in fact long be apartheid. We grew up with the goodness of nature; cut it ourselves with the hand-sickle in the hills and spread it out to dry. Have you had it?

      Wilhelm Van Niekerk - 2014-10-20 18:36

      Bring it I can get pissed and detox at the same time. Its a win win situation

  • WG Morgan - 2014-10-20 17:22

    I will continue to add rooibos to my homebrew!

  • Dan Steel - 2014-10-20 17:44

    Not knowing the far history of Rooibos use in SA by the indigenous people, I at least do wish to commend the patenters for fighting to do so against the EU nations who were opposing this. A win for SA, SADC and Africa. The nitty gritties we can fight about internally. Congrats!

      Ike Jakson - 2014-10-21 13:09

      Right Dan!

  • Suzelle Fourie - 2014-10-20 19:27

    So, what are they going to call this new, indigenous dop? Rooiblits?

      Ike Jakson - 2014-10-21 13:10

      Voorwaar. Hoekom nie?

  • Anton Biermann - 2014-10-20 20:24

    This is ridiculous, how can you take away the right to brew with rooibos. Its like patenting grapes, wheat or apples and preventing anyone to brew with it. Whether commercial or not.

      Mike Mcc - 2014-10-20 23:00

      The patent protects their particular method, so as long as your method can be proven to be materially different there is no problem.

  • Steve Werner - 2014-10-20 20:28

    Now you can get lekker "bossies"

  • Nicholas Hannaway - 2014-10-20 21:06

    "Last year, the SA Rooibos Council hurriedly managed to stop an attempt by a French company - the Compagnie de Trucy - to trademark the name, fearing that it could secure exclusive use." Haha, hows these Frenchmen? They stick there noses up at our produce, insisting that we don't make cognac but brandy, and not champagne but sparkling wine. And now they're first in line to claim naming rights to a product they don't really even have massive interest (ie: The Western Cape) in producing. Sorry, that was generalization. No offence to the French intended. But it was sneaky and it would have been brutally ironic if not halted.

  • Kholekile Nyati - 2014-10-20 22:55

    Do the detox properties stay intact after the distillation/ brewing process?

      Jaco van der Linde - 2014-10-21 08:35

      Yes it does, for example in the brewing process it would be go along the whole fermentation process with out affecting the anti-oxidant properties. So it serves with the goodness of beer with all the deliciousness that comes with Rooibos

      Ike Jakson - 2014-10-21 13:12

      Kholekile, it also adds other new detox stuff, you know. All baie lekke!

  • Nin Ja Kitty - 2014-10-21 07:47

    Now we can drink Rooi Bull and Vodka, lekker ne?

      Ike Jakson - 2014-10-21 13:13

      Rooibos, or heuningtee even better, goes well with the original Hollandse Jenewer.

  • Heather Woodland MacAlister - 2014-10-22 09:25

    brilliant news for the town of Clanwilliam - they have so much to offer. Its the 200th Anniversary of the town being called Clanwilliam - what a fantastic way to celebrate with this news - looking forward to Rooibos Champagne.

  • Roger Jorgensen - 2014-10-22 17:53

    The anti-oxidant properties of rooibos are legend. I use it in soap and some pretty tasty ales too, as do lots of people. These guys have patents pending on using it as an ant-oxidant (i.e. instead of sulphur dioxide) in wine, cider and beer. Their Audacia Rooibos Merlot is already in some Pick&Pay stores, Stellenbrau are doing a rooibos beer of some sort, but none of us brewer use an anti-oxidant per se - just good hops. Windemere are doing a cider with rooibos. An alternate natural anti-oxidant is a good idea, but it does not look like an easy patent: it is a bit like trying to patent sulphur dioxide.....

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