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Rooibos Tea Is Africa's First Food To Join The EU's List Of Protected Products

A farm worker grades and treats rooibos tea leaves before packaging in the Clanwilliam district of South Africa in 2017.
A farm worker grades and treats rooibos tea leaves before packaging in the Clanwilliam district of South Africa in 2017.

The European Union has added a South African tea to its register of products with a protected designation of origin. Ish Mafundikwa prepared this report for NPR's Newscast unit.

Rooibos ("red bush" in Afrikaans) joins France's Champagne, Greece's feta cheese and Colombian coffee on the list. The tea is said to have numerous health benefits.

The rooibos-producing community in South Africa is justifiably excited about the certification.

"It protects the product against would-be producers outside of the rooibos region in South Africa," said Dawie de Villiers, legal director of the South African Rooibos Council.

The listing means only rooibos from the South Africa region can use the EU's red and yellow "protected designation of origin" (PDO) logo.

The status protects consumers from any fake teas labeled rooibos. It also should result in premium pricing for the tea, which should benefit farmers. It's the first African food to be added to the exclusive list.


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

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