Cyclopia, better known by the common name Honeybush, is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae, of the subfamily Faboideae. The description was published by Étienne Pierre Ventenat in 1808. The name Ibbetsonia, published two years later, is regarded as a synonym of this genus; John Sims had commemorated the physiologist Agnes Ibbetson with this name. Another common name is 'Heuningbos' in Afrikaans.
Cultivation and use 
Honeybush is so named because the flowers smell of honey. The taste of honeybush tea is similar to that of rooibos but a little sweeter. In some rural districts it used to be common practice to keep a kettle of honeybush tea infusing on the stove ready for drinking while scenting the whole house — unlike tea prepared from Camellia sinensis, the product does not turn bitter with long-term simmering.
- Cyclopia intermedia, known as 'bergtee' (mountain tea), found between Port Elizabeth and the edge of the Langkloof
- Cyclopia subternata, known as 'vleitee' (marshland tea) or 'valleitee' (valley tea)
- Cyclopia genistoides, known as 'kustee' (coastal tea), found mostly in the Western Cape near Yserfontein and Darling and also thriving in the South Cape if cultivated
- Cyclopia sessiliflora, known as 'Heidelberg-tee', named after the town Heidelberg in South Africa, where it grows in the local mountain range
- Cyclopia maculata, grown in the Outeniqua area near George
Some species can be cultivated whereas others have resisted all attempts at cultivation and must be harvested in the wild. It is not always easy to discover what the seeds need to enable them to germinate; some kinds bear elaiosomes and might be dependent on the services of particular ants or birds. Cyclopia intermedia (mountain tea) is one of the teas that is harvested in the Kouga mountains where it grows naturally. Mountain tea regenerates within three years after harvesting or devastation by fire; consequently less than one third of the mountain yield is available for harvesting each year by rotation.
Mountain tea and valley tea flower in September/October whereas coastal tea flowers in May/June.
There are two methods of processing honeybush for use in tea. In the traditional method, the leaves of the bush are harvested, cut and bruised (often with mechanical rollers), and then left in the sun to oxidise. The modern, industralised process oxidises the leaves in rotating, heated tanks at temperatures of 70 to 90 degrees Celsius, for two to three days. The leaves are then air dried.
Afterwards, the leaves are sifted and graded according to the application:
- Super Fine (mostly used for string & tag tea bags)
- Regular Fine (mostly used for swimming tea bags or loose tea application)
- Coarse (mostly used for loose tea application)
Honeybush is low in tannin (0.45%). Some of the active compounds present in honeybush include:
- Cinnamic acids
- Mangiferin and isomangiferin (Cyclopia subternata)
See also 
- International Organization for Plant Information (IOPI). "Plant Name Search Results" (HTML). International Plant Names Index. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
- Boulger, George Simonds (1891). "Ibbetson, Agnes". In Sidney Lee. Dictionary of National Biography 28. London: Smith, Elder & Co. "Ibbetsonia, Curtis's Botanical Magazine (t. 1259, 1810)"
- "Agricultural Research Council - Botanical information". Arc.agric.za. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
- "Phenolic metabolites from honeybush tea (Cyclopia subternata)". Cat.inist.fr. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
- "Honeybush Tea - Organic Honeybush Tea is caffeine free". Montegotea.com. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
- "Agri-Probe". Elsenburg.com. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
- [dead link]
- de Beer D, Jerz G, Joubert E, Wray V, Winterhalter P.,"Isolation of isomangiferin from honeybush (Cyclopia subternata) using high-speed counter-current chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography." J Chromatogr A. 2009 May 8;1216(19):4282-9
- Honeybush by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon
- Honeybush by Liesl van der Walt, South African National Biodiversity Institute. Relates mostly to coastal honeybush Cyclopia genistoides.
- Honeybush tea health benefits article.
- A. Kokotkiewicz, M. Luczkiewicz, "Honeybush (Cyclopia sp.): A rich source of compounds with high antimutagenic properties," Fitoterapia, 80,1 (2009), 3-11.
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