Drinking tea is a fixture shared by all cultures over the world for centuries.

It’s hard to imagine a world without tea, but so much of its history is unknown – especially the women who shaped tea to be the beloved object it is today.

Mary Tuke [1725 to 1772] was born in England and became one of the first tea merchants to open a chain of tea stores – the Starbucks of its day – despite many jail threats and fines.

It seems many men were opposed to successful businesswomen.

Born in 1850, Japan, and living to sometime in the 1880s, Oura Kei was central in creating the Japanese tea export market. Catherine Cranston [1880 to 1930] built a renowned chain of tea rooms in Glasgow, Scotland.

One woman who pushed rooibos tea to the top of the global tea charts is Dr Annique Theron – the mother of Rooibos.

She first stumbled upon rooibos 50 years ago when she gave her allergic baby a warm bottle of rooibos tea to drink. It was the only thing that settled her allergic reaction – to even mother’s milk since her birth. Curious about rooibos, Dr Theron investigated the tea.

She faced great adversity as a woman in academia and it was her unwillingness to give up that led her to explore the medicinal qualities of the herb.

Adele du Toit, spokeswoman of the SA Rooibos Council, said: “Since Dr Theron’s discovery, many South African women rely on the rooibos herb. It does wonders for the skin. Rooibos is rich in alpha hydroxy and zinc, both key nutrients for the skin, as well as calcium, copper and potassium. Rooibos tea also helps with their absorption.”

Drinking a cup of rooibos tea a day helps remove dead skin that clogs hair follicles.

The antioxidants in rooibos: aspalathin and nothofagin have anti-inflammatory properties. These help prevent cardiovascular diseases. Their antiviral properties boost the immune system. For more info on Rooibos health and beauty benefits, visit www.sarooibos.co.za