Rooibos (pronounced ‘roy-boss’) is a shrub-like bush native to South Africa. While it’s often referred to as a tea, rooibos is, in fact, a herb. For centuries, rooibos has been used in its homeland for many purposes, including as a refreshing beverage. Because rooibos tea is naturally caffeine-free, it can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
Rooibos tea (which translates as ‘red bush’ tea) comes from the shrub Aspalathus linearis, whose leaves are long and needle-like. Once harvested and dried, they are fermented into a reddish-brown herbal infusion, hence the name.
Rooibos only grows in a specific region of the Western Cape and, while farmers have tried to grow it in other parts of the world, the climate, soil and conditions are optimal in South Africa. In fact, in 2014, rooibos received Geographical Indicator (GI) status, which means it can only be called rooibos if it’s sourced from the defined area in the Cederberg and surrounds.
How rooibos tea is made?
The production of rooibos tea is a fascinating process: the plant is cut by hand and then bruised to encourage oxidisation, which helps develop its rich colour and flavour. As oxidisation occurs, the rooibos becomes redder.
While other styles of tea may be an acquired taste for some, rooibos tea’s mild flavour profile, with its sweet notes of honey and vanilla, make it among the most palatable teas available, and increasingly popular with tea drinkers around the world.
- Rooibos Tea Benefits
For centuries, South Africans have used rooibos for its myriad health benefits, including to relieve teething gums, soothe colicky babies, and promote skin health. In fact, it’s reported that a third of South Africans include rooibos as part of their cold and flu fighting arsenal.Its anti-inflammatory powers and antioxidant content also show promise in protecting against diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Rooibos tea may even help with weight loss. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Good source of antioxidants
Rooibos is reputed to be a good source of antioxidants. In one 15-person study, blood levels of antioxidants increased by 2.9% when participants drank red rooibos and 6.6% when they drank the green variety. This uptick lasted for five hours after the participants drank 500ml of tea made with 750mg of rooibos tea leaves.Boasting 50% more antioxidants than green tea, rooibos tea is often chosen as a preferred drink due to its high antioxidant composition.Rooibos also contains low amounts of tannins, the astringent, bitter-tasting plat polyphenols which bind and precipitate proteins and interfere with iron absorption in the body.
- Reducing blood pressure
Drinking rooibos tea may have beneficial effects on blood pressure by inhibiting angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE).
- Lowering cholesterol
Rooibos tea is also reputed to have the ability to lower bad cholesterol and raise ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels for those who are at risk of heart disease. In a study of 40 overweight adults at high risk of heart disease, drinking six cups of rooibos tea daily for six weeks decreased ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol while boosting the HDL cholesterol.
- Hair and skin health
Research shows that applying a 10% rooibos tea extract to hair significantly increased hair growth in almost 90% of the volunteers. Rooibos extract is also recommended to use on the skin for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and soothing properties.Studies have shown that rooibos tea is pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative on skin cancer cells in vitro and on mouse skin. It helped to destroy cancer cells and keep them from spreading in test tubes and in animal studies. It’s early days and more research on humans is needed to know the long-term benefits.In South Africa, many people also use Rooibos tea to help treat acne and promote skin health.
- Weight loss
There’s no magic formula to weight loss, but studies have shown that, when accompanied by a healthy diet, the chemicals in rooibos may help fat metabolise. Further research continues to take place to validate some of the wide-spanning benefits of rooibos.
- Colic and digestion
There are reputed benefits to help calm down digestive problems and colic in adults and babies with regular Rooibos drinks. In fact, in South Africa, Rooibos is sold in the baby food aisle of the supermarket.
Is there caffeine in rooibos tea?
There’s no caffeine in rooibos tea, which is why it’s been used for centuries across a range of different age groups. Many South African children grow up accustomed to the taste of rooibos tea, as it’s used to relieve teething gums or soothe colicky babies.
What is the way to drink rooibos tea?
How you drink rooibos tea very much comes down to personal preference. The mild, aromatic taste is quite sweet, with hints of vanilla and honey, so you can drink it just as you would any other black or green tea. Some prefer it plain, or others like to add a little milk.
Recently, rooibos tea has been used as a core ingredient in a number of different styles of beverage – consumed as a latte, an iced tea or even made into a cocktail.
What is the best rooibos tea?
Good rooibos tea can be hard to find. Luckily for Australian tea drinkers, Nerada makes a delicious Rooibos and Vanilla Tea that can be found in Coles and Woolworths, along with many independent grocery stores. It’s Rainforest Alliance certified and a fabulous drink all year round.
To excite and delight the palate we have added a hint of vanilla flavour.
Discover Nerada Rooibos and Vanilla Tea.
Disclaimer – Please note that while most information given in regards to the health benefits of rooibos is backed by scientific study, we recommend consulting with a medical practitioner if you are consuming beverages that you are unfamiliar with.