Although rooibos was first reported in 1772 by botanist Carl Thunberg, the Khoisan people of the area had been using it for a long time and were aware of its medicinal value. The Dutch settlers to the Cape adopted rooibos as an alternative to black tea an expensive commodity for the settlers who relied on supply ships from Europe. Until the 19th century, however, Dutch usage of the tea was minimal.
In 1903, Benjamin Ginsberg (a Russian settler to the Cape and descendant of a famous tea family) realised the potential of rooibos and began trading with the local Khoisan people who were harvesting it. He sold his "Mountain Tea" to settlers in the Cape and shortly became the first exporter of rooibos using contacts from the family tea business.
Rooibos is only grown in a small area in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape province. de Pakhuys region has been growing Organic Rooibos since 1992. Generally, the leaves are oxidized, or often inaccurately referred to as fermented, to produce the distinctive reddish-brown color, but unoxidized "green" rooibos is also produced.