When we were in Clanwilliam in early 2018, we all ate at a local restaurant called ‘Michael’s on Park’. Honest African food in a unique setting, the old Free Mason’s lodge of Clanwilliam. We had a delicious meal and as it happens, the waitress popped the question whether we want coffee. My wife doesn’t like coffee so the standard answer is also a question; “Do you have Buchu tea?” In the heart of Rooibos and Buchu you do not expect a questioning look. Yet it came. We held a flaming speech about the health benefits and the positive value that this herb can give to drinks and dishes. As a result the chef and the owner agreed to come to the farm for a Buchu lesson. They were both there the next morning. After a crash course Buchu and Rooibos, a guided tour it was of course time to have a taste.
Well and then it suddenly changes completely. Chefs taste with their nose, mouth and soul. After some rounds of tea, two tall slender bottles suddenly appeared. A bottle of Buchu liqueur and a bottle of Rooibos liqueur. I had never tasted it and the tast made me very enthusiastic, just like the men from Michael’s on Park. I found the Buchu liqueur delicious, but was completely in love with the Rooibos liqueur. To my great regret, the maker died and with it the recipe. Since then I have been busy trying to copy both liqueurs to relive that blissful moment. The Buchu liqueur goes reasonably fast because it takes a day or 2 to make. The Rooibos is a story of its own. It takes 30 days before the next version is ready, but I think I am there and therefore happy to share it with you.
Here is the recipe for half a liter of Rooibos liqueur. Do not make too much because the quality decreases the longer you leave it there. A solution might be to finish the bottle in 1 evening.
– 350 ml of vodka
– 30 grams of organic rooibos
– 1 gram of ginger (fresh or dried)
– 150 ml of sugar syrup
Add the vodka, rooibos and ginger in a preserving jar or weck bottle. Put it away for thirty days in a dark, cool place. Shake the pot once a day, so that the rooibos floats nicely through the vodka. If you are able to get pure alcohol this is even better, just make sure you change the amount of sugar syrup, otherwise your alcohol percentage is too high. Liqueur has an alcohol percentage between 20 and 30 percent, although there are liqueurs that run up to 70 percent.
Pour the Rooibos vodka through a tea strainer into a clean bottle. Your liqueur can be a bit cloudy. To get it completely clear you will have to use a cheese cloth.
Preparation of sugar syrup
Take 100 grams of sugar and add 200 ml of water. Bring to a boil until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for half an hour until it has thickened to 150 ml. Let it cool and pour it with the Vodka tea. Shake it well and then taste it yourself first. Drink it at room temperature and enjoy.
If you go to South Africa and you come to the Rooibos area, then definitely visit Clanwilliam. This is the heart of Rooibos. You will also find the Michael’s on Park restaurant there. There is a good chance that you will have live music on a Friday or Saturday night. Michael is a former musician and lives for music and cooking.
You can find Michael’s on Park on 30 Park Street in Clanwilliam.
For the best Rooibos you simply visit Witelskloof Farm. Home of organic Buchu and Rooibos. Say hello to Ria and Jannie for me