It’s easily one of the biggest buzzwords of the last year and there’s no doubting that botanicals are everywhere.

What exactly are botanicals?

Technically, they are plants or herbs, which are treated in some way to obtain a natural flavourant, oil or medicinal property. Botanicals have exploded in popularity recently because they flavour they are able to impart into food and drinks is unmatched. Now, you’re able to flavour things naturally, instead of with synthetic ingredients.

Why botanicals?

The health-conscious trend seems to be making the shift to mainstream and botanicals, with their natural medicinal qualities, play right into that. With the rising societal awareness of health problems associated with excessive sugar and alcohol intake, the natural, sugar-free ( as well as the non-alcoholic beverage) market is currently experiencing unprecedented growth. Added to this, we’re paying more attention to provenance and locality and the use of botanicals is the ultimate celebration of South African ingredients.

There are some very cool ways that botanicals are being used by small local businesses.

The Botanical Bar

Brought to us by the clever team behind the Gin Bar, the botanical bar focuses on small-batch, locally-made spirits. They’ve also trained under foraging expert, Roushana Gray, and incorporate these amazing indigenous products into liqueurs, bitters and tonics. You won’t sickly sweet drinks or brightly-coloured mixes here, everything is flavoured naturally and refined-sugar-free. thebotanicalbar.co.za

Coco Safar

Coco Safar unveiled its new botanical micro-brewery in a plush location in Sea Point. The focus at this micro-brewery is interesting, nutritious and delicious non-alcoholic drinks. Coco Safar’s signature Botanical Couture Collection of beverages, micro-brewed on-site in Sea Point, consists of a rich and refreshing Red Rooibos Cold Brew, a subtle and herbaceous Green Rooibos Cold Brew, an elegant and invigorating Coffee-Citrus Cold Brew and a complex and timeless Rooibos-Infused Tonic Water. cocosafar.com

Wild Olive

This proudly South African brand specialises in 100% natural perfume and cosmetic products inspired by African traditional age-old remedies and makes them using indigenous botanicals. The store on Cape Town’s Bree street is more than just that. It’s also the laboratory where Wild Olive’s mostly organic products are made. The products are made from a plethora of plant extracts – mostly from fynbos varieties and other Cape species. wildolive.eu

Saint d’Ici Perfumes

Marie Aoun’s fragrance house, Saint d’Ici, produces a stylish line of limited-edition perfumes created from natural, ethically sourced ingredients. The Johannesburg-based entrepreneur is always on the lookout for new ingredients, forging relationships across the continent. She explains ‘South Africa’s biodiversity is remarkable. Farmers and artisanal distillers are increasingly trialling extractions of various varieties of fynbos, wood and grasses. Together with the ancient traditions of African perfumes further north, I cannot imagine a better place to be as a natural perfumer.” saintdici.com