The leaves are used to make a herbal tea that is called by the names: rooibos, bush tea (especially in Southern Africa), or redbush tea (predominantly in Great Britain). The tea has been popular in Southern Africa for generations, but is now consumed in many countries worldwide. It is sometimes spelled rooibosch in accordance with the original Dutch. The tea has a taste somewhat similar to the earthy flavour of yerba mate.
The generic name comes from the Greek name aspalathos for Calicotome villosa, which has very similar growth and flowers to the rooibos plant. The specific name of linearis comes from the plant’s linear growing structure and needle-like leaves.