6 Great Rooibos Tea (Red Bush Tea) Benefits
This is a Tea with great taste, character and, of course, benefits. It comes from the vast mountains of South Africa. Every sip of this delicious and surprisingly invigorating brew transports you to the stunning Cederberg region. Here, Rooibos has grown for thousands of years.
Despite its immense age, it’s only recently become popular. Why? We will answer this question, and many more, in this article about Rooibos Tea benefits. We will explore.
What you will learn:
- What is Rooibos Tea?
- How to pronounce Rooibos?
- Is this Tea caffeine free?
- Is it good for you?
- Is it good for your skin?
- Does Rooibos Tea lower blood pressure?
- Does it help you to lose weight?
- Can I drink this Tea when pregnant?
Do you have any more questions? We might very well answer them in this article. If we don’t, ask us! We care about this delightful beverage.
What is Rooibos Tea?
Rooibos Tea is a herb that grows exclusively in the Cederberg region of South Africa. It comes from the perennial Aspalathus linearis plant, a member of the Fabaceae (Legume) family. This plant can reach heights of up to 3 feet (0.9 metres) and has thin, needle-like leaves. It’s these leaves used in the making of this delectable infusion.
Indigenous South Africans have consumed this herb for centuries. The Khoisan people, in particular, have long had a close association with it. Year-after-year, these people, as well as the herb itself, experience some of the harshest conditions of the African continent. Temperatures in the region can dip below zero in the winter and above 40°C in the summer!
How is Rooibos Tea Made?
When it comes to production, it depends on whether you’re making red or green Rooibos. The former requires more processing than the latter. For this reason, let’s first look into red Rooibos.
Once the harvested leaves arrive at the factory, they are mechanically cut into a uniform size and length. Next, it undergoes ‘bruising’ and is then left in heaps to ferment. This period of enzymatic oxidation changes both the colour and structure of the leaves from green to red.
Following this, factory workers transport what is, at this stage, essentially red Rooibos Tea outside to be sun-dried. Depending on the temperature and humidity, this can take up to two days. Regardless of how long it takes, it inevitably results in a product with less than 10% moisture content.
The primary difference between red and green Rooibos in terms of processing is fermentation. When making green Rooibos, workers basically skip this stage following its cutting and before its drying. All that is left, then, is to grade according to type, length, colour and flavour. Finally, it is shipped out to bless mugs and cups around the world.
What Does Rooibos Tea Taste Like?
So, what can you expect from your cuppa? With red Rooibos, in particular, you’re opting for a remarkably smooth infusion from start to finish. Upon the first sip, it offers a gentle, natural sweetness with notes reminiscent of nuts, honey and caramel.
This is in addition to refined herbaceous overtones, which never cease to entice the palate. The longer you let it brew, the more full-bodied and rich it becomes. Whatever your preference, you’re in for a treat.
On a side note, can you drink red Rooibos with milk? Technically, yes. Some do, indeed, make this decision. Again, it all depends on preference. Whether you like it strong or weak, with milk or without, red Rooibos is an excellent choice of beverage.
Now, back to green Rooibos. This Tea has a mellowness like no other, combined with grassy and slightly sweet notes. Many choose this option if they’re traditional Green Tea fans. Furthermore, those who like other Herbal Teas such as Organic Moringa Leaves and even Pine Needles will love this brew.
There is a third option: Flavoured Rooibos Tea. As the name suggests, these beverages, made from either red or green Rooibos, have had additional, scrumptious flavours added. Here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, we stock many!
Rooibos Tea Benefits
A recent report from the “Swiss Business Hub Southern Africa” stated that:
“Rooibos appears to be headed towards becoming the second most commonly consumed beverage ingredient in the world after ordinary tea (Camellia sinensis)”.
The reason for this is mostly Rooibos Tea benefits. But what does that even mean? As it turns out, quite a lot. Rooibos is caffeine-free and low in tannins. This, for starters, makes it an excellent alternative to so-called “real” Tea. And this is just the beginning. It also contains the following vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants:
- Alpha Hydroxy Acid
Furthermore, the often unpleasant word “anti”, in the context of Red Bush Tea, is good. More than good, it’s exceptional. It refers to how this beverage is anti-allergenic, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antispasmodic and even anti-ageing!
Best of all, this is to name but a few of its outstanding qualities.
From allergy relief to weight loss; improved cardiovascular health to reduced diabetes risks, this Herbal Tea is as beneficial as they get.
1. Fighting Allergies
Why did Annique’s daughter feel better after drinking this infusion? Researchers believe that this is due to a bioflavonoid called quercetin. Quercetin has antihistamine properties, which blocks the release of histamine from mast cells to curb common symptoms of seasonal allergies.
Hay fever, in particular, can lead to congestion, a runny nose and sneezing. Drinking this Herbal Tea, however, can lessen and, in some cases, even eradicate these symptoms. According to one study, Rooibos Tea has the potential to be as beneficial as certain antihistamine medicines.
Debatably related is the fact that it can also support the immune system. Or, in other words, it can ward off minor illnesses such as the common cold and the flu. This is according to a 2001 study published in “Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry”.
2. Rooibos Tea and Colic in Babies
According to some experts, about 20-25% of all babies experience infantile colic. This is a condition defined as lengthy episodes of crying for more than 3 hours a day. It can cause restlessness and sleeplessness. Severe side effects may even include gastrointestinal issues.
It’s important to note, however, that a colicky baby is not an unhealthy baby. Nevertheless, it can be a very distressing experience for both parent and child. Consider giving your baby Rooibos Tea, either as a warm brew, an Iced Tea, or an iced lolly, to lessen the symptoms of infantile colic.
We do however recommend seeking a professional consultation with your doctor should you have any concerns. However, most parents agree that giving your child this herb is safe from between 4 and 6 months old. Lorinda Theron was the first known child to experience this remarkable Rooibos Tea benefit. Yet she wouldn’t be the last.
3. Weight Loss
Does Rooibos Tea help you lose weight? You bet it does! Ernest du Toit, a spokesperson for the South Africa Rooibos Council, said:
“Rooibos Tea contains no fat or carbohydrates and its weight-loss properties further extend to inhibiting fat-stage hormones within the body. Rooibos’s unique bioflavonoid, Aspalathin, helps to reduce stress hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage, typically associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and type-2 diabetes. In a nutshell, Rooibos Tea can prevent the body from storing and even forming new fat cells”.
What does this mean? Rooibos Tea contains no calories, for starters. It can also boost the metabolism of fat cells. This, in turn, enables the body to burn fat quicker and more efficiently. It’s essential to recognise, however, that Rooibos Tea won’t do all of the work for you.
For this particular Rooibos Tea benefit to work sufficiently, one must adhere to a healthy and active lifestyle. This means frequently exercising and eating healthily. It means choosing bananas over chocolate and getting out of bed in the morning for an old-fashioned jog.
Nevertheless, drinking Rooibos Tea for weight loss is a good start.
4. Blood Pressure
According to recent statistics, 30% of the world’s population experience high blood pressure. Could this beverage be the answer? Possibly. This is because Rooibos Tea acts as a sort of bronchodilator. Bronchodilators are a type of medication that make breathing easier by relaxing the muscles in the lungs and widening the airways (bronchi).
While bronchodilators most commonly treat respiratory conditions, they can also reduce high blood pressure. This, in turn, reduces the risk of a heart attack, heart failure, stroke and other conditions including kidney disease and dementia.
Furthermore, in the May 2010 issue of “Public Health Nutrition”, one study suggested that Rooibos Tea could have an overall positive effect on cardiovascular health. Indeed, a combination of its blood-pressure-lowering abilities and antispasmodic properties mean good news for your heart.
And we’re not the only ones to think so, either. Prof Amanda Swart from the Biochemistry Department at Stellenbosch University said:
“Given the overwhelming body of evidence that exists, Rooibos’ potential, in both alleviating CVD in sufferers and lowering the risk of developing heart disease, is irrefutable”.
Is Rooibos Tea safe during Pregnancy? Yes. In fact, it’s immensely beneficial. One reason for this is that Rooibos is entirely caffeine free. However, it isn’t the only reason. As already discussed, this Tea contains an abundance of vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants. These combined can support a healthy pregnancy.
Furthermore, while some Teas limit iron absorption through the chelation of iron molecules, Red Bush Tea improves this absorption. When you’re pregnant, you need twice the amount of iron you did before you were expecting. This is because your body needs extra blood for the baby. Rooibos Tea is, indeed, one such way to increase iron levels in your system.
Some likewise consider Red Bush Tea a digestive aid. This is, unsurprisingly, a much-sought-after quality for pregnant women who experience morning sickness. In relation to this, a change in estrogen levels during pregnancy can have an adverse impact on your digestive health. Rooibos, meanwhile, can alleviate stomach aches.
6. Good for your Skin
Rooibos Tea benefits extend to topical treatments, too. This is thanks to the components zinc and alpha hydroxy acid present in this beverage, which can improve skin health. Applying brewed Rooibos Tea directly to the skin can relieve pimples, blackheads and even sunburns.
This is also where the Tea’s anti-ageing properties come into play. Researchers at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, have the answers. They discovered that this herb is effective in protecting against the degeneration of preadipocytes, the predominant cells found in fat tissue. This, in turn, could also keep wrinkles at bay.
Lead researcher Prof Maryna van de Venter said:
“In old age, there is less fat in places where it should be and more fat in deposits where it shouldn’t be, and it’s this that significantly alters one’s state of health as one ages.”
The research concluded that Red Bush can partially restore the function of these aged cells and that both fermented and Green Rooibos can protect skin cells from oxidative stress.
Red vs Green Rooibos
Rooibos Tea benefits can differ depending on whether you choose Red Rooibos Tea or Green Rooibos. In its ‘green’ form, little processing takes place. It’s ‘red’ counterpart, on the other hand, undergoes a relatively lengthy oxidation and fermentation period. But other than the colour and processing, what’s the difference between red and green Rooibos?
Because of its lack of processing, Rooibos Green Tea has the highest amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants can combat free radicals in the body. This, in turn, reduces the risk of developing several chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. Furthermore, the green Rooibos Tea taste is mellow, grassy and slightly sweet.
So, does that mean that green is better than red? Not at all! The red type likewise contains antioxidants despite its processing. These, too, can slow down the natural, though harmful, process of human oxidation. So don’t worry! Taste-wise, red Rooibos has notes reminiscent of nuts, honey and caramel with strong herbaceous overtones.
Rooibos Side Effects
Drinking Rooibos Tea is, for the most, safe. Any side effects associated with it are extremely rare. That said, there have, in the past, been reports of it having a negative impact on health.
One case study discovered links between its consumption and an increase in liver enzymes. This can often indicate a liver problem, although this was but one complex case.
Furthermore, some researchers have noted correlations between Rooibos and stimulated production of the female sex hormone, estrogen. As such, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company advise against this beverage if you have a hormone-sensitive condition.
Does Rooibos Tea Contain Fluoride?
Rooibos does, indeed, contain trace amounts of fluoride, although it’s worth noting that it has less than traditional Tea. The question begs: is fluoride good or bad? For starters, it’s important to know what, exactly, it is: a chemical found throughout nature that is also added to toothpaste.
Fluoride has a unique ability to prevent tooth decay. It plays a significant role in the mineralisation of your bones and teeth, helping to keep them hard and strong.
Furthermore, fluoride may help prevent dental cavities in several ways. This includes helping to slow down the loss of minerals from the tooth enamel and accelerating the repair process. It might even inhibit bacterial activity.
All sounds pretty good, right? Well, it’s likewise essential to recognise the fact that too much fluoride can cause some side effects. Most notably, overconsumption may, in fact, weaken bones and raise the risk of damage. Remember, though, that Rooibos has less fluoride than traditional Tea. In other words, the chances of experiencing these side effects are less than, say, Black Tea and Green Tea.
Are you wondering how to pronounce the name of this Tea? Most say “roy-boss”. Others, however, say “roy-bosh”. The choice is yours! However, this herb goes by other names, too. This includes “Red Bush Tea”, “Red Tea” and “Bush Tea”.
Whatever you decide to call this beverage, it all comes from the same Rooibos plant. Because it doesn’t come from the Camellia sinensis (Tea) plant, this means that, technically, it isn’t a “Tea” in the conventional sense.
Instead, it is a Tisane. However, the name “Tisane” is seldom used when describing a Herbal brew. Indeed, the name “Tea” has stuck around!
There is one name, however, that absolutely shouldn’t have any association with Rooibos. This name is “Honeybush”. Why? Because Honeybush is a different herb all together!
Difference Between Rooibos and Honeybush
It’s a common misconception that Rooibos and Honeybush are the same thing. They’re not. The herb we’re talking about in this blog comes from the Western Cape province of South Africa, specifically the Cederberg region. Honeybush Tea, meanwhile, comes from the Eastern Cape province.
Nevertheless, it’s true to say that Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and Honeybush (Cyclopia) are, indeed, related. Both of these plants come from the same Legume family. Both are caffeine-free and low in tannins.
We’ve briefly mentioned it already, but let’s now delve deeper into the notion of Rooibos caffeine. It’s a common misconception that this type of tea has caffeine.
Why this rumour continues to circulate the internet is not yet known. However, being caffeine-free comes with its own health benefits.
According to NHS Choices, pregnant women, for example, should not exceed 200 mg of caffeine daily. This is the equivalent of two cups of Coffee. With Rooibos Tea, meanwhile, one doesn’t have to worry about even that much caffeine! It’s fair to say, then, that drinking Rooibos Tea during pregnancy is absolutely fine, and even beneficial.
Around 60 plants naturally contain caffeine. This includes nuts from the Kola Tree, often used in soft drink products. Also the Theobroma cacao tree, which produces the bean used as a primary ingredient in chocolate.
More famous, however, is caffeine in Coffee, which is from the Coffea (Coffee) plant. Furthermore, caffeine is also found naturally in Tea, which is, as already mentioned, from the Camellia Sinensis (Tea) plant. To find out more information, please read our article entitled: “How Much Caffeine in Tea and Coffee?”
History of Rooibos Tea
The discovery of Rooibos Tea benefits took hold of South Africa and indeed the world during the 20th Century. However, the plant has flourished across the landscape for a lot longer than that. The Khoisan first consumed the leaves of this plant many hundreds of years ago. Then came the arrival of European colonists in 1660, and their lives changed forever.
As the British and Dutch encroached on Khoisan land, their way of life began to diminish significantly. Rooibos Tea benefits were all but forgotten for around 100 years. This was until the arrival of Swedish botanist, Carl Thunberg (1743-1828), in 1772. Thunberg rediscovered the Aspalathus linearis plant. He then went onto repopularise its consumption in Tea-form.
However, the biggest changes were yet to come. Benjamin Ginsberg, a Russian immigrant with ties to the Tea Industry, began marketing Red Bush as a “mountain Tea” in 1904. This kickstarted a new widespread interest in the drink. In 1930, Dr P. Le Fras Nortier, a local doctor and amateur botanist, discovered the secret of germinating Rooibos seeds. Together with Olof Bergh, a commercial farmer, he developed new and groundbreaking cultivation methods.
These factors combined saw Rooibos soar in popularity by the mid-20th Century. And then, during the Second World War (1939-1945), this went further still when the British began importing more of the herb. This change came about due to the Japanese occupation of China, Britain’s primary source of Tea. Though British India bolstered the industry for the most, Rooibos Tea likewise played a significant role in quenching the first of many Tea-drinkers.
After the war, sales of Red Bush Tea dipped. Thankfully, however, this was short-lived. In 1998, South Africa exported 1,230 tonnes of Rooibos. By 2007, this had increased to 14,000 tonnes. The reason for this revival? Rooibos Tea benefits! And for this, we can thank one person: the late Dr Annique Theron (1929-2016). Who was she? And what did she do?
Theron was a South African mother, and later in her life, a doctor in alternative medicine. On April 8th, 1967, her life changed forever when she discovered the most famous of all the benefits: allergy relief. Her 14-month-old daughter, Lorinda, had long suffered from severe allergies and colic. After many sleepless nights, Annique decided to warm her milk with Rooibos.
Not only did Lorinda sleep for 3 hours straight, but also became less susceptible to her allergies. In 1968, just one year later, Theron published her book entitled “Allergies: An Amazing Discovery”. And what a discovery it was. Since her findings, sales of Rooibos Tea have risen by around 50%. In a 2009 interview, she said:
“It was a long but delightful journey. And I’m so happy that I could’ve been the instrument to have achieved that”.
Dr Annique Theron passed away aged 86. Her son, Henk, said:
“Her legacy will remain. She is one woman who added value to many people’s lives, and we are grateful that we could have been a part of that”.
Here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, we are proud to continue her legacy with every Rooibos Tea we stock. But now is the time to find out more about these Rooibos Tea benefits. What can they do to improve your daily life?
Where to Buy Rooibos Tea
We have a vast selection of Rooibos Teas from Green to Red to Flavoured. We also stock Loose Leaf and Tea Bags. The choice is yours!
Rooibos 50 Tea Bags: Don’t have time to brew Loose Leaf Teas? Rooibos Tea Bags are as convenient as they get while offering the same delicious flavours.
Rooibos Loose Tea: Keep things simple, refreshing, and unputdownable with our very own House Rooibos Tea. This is an infusion you’ll want to keep brewing time and time again.
Rooibos Organic Tea: This wholesome Tea is everything you’d expect from Red Bush and more. It has our guarantee of being produced using only controlled bio-cultivation methods. This means that producers of this particular Tea steer clear of synthetic fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides.
Rooibos Vanilla Tea: Soft, creamy and indulgent, Rooibos Vanilla Tea is perfect for those trying to avoid dessert without neglecting the sweet tooth.
Rooibos Caramel Tea: This is a beverage that looks as good as it tastes. Indeed, Rooibos Caramel Tea is a true delight to the senses. It consists of sweet notes of almond and, of course, caramel with subtle woody and nutty undertones.
Rooibos Green Tea: Lighter-bodied and milder than its oxidised counterpart, Rooibos Green Tea delivers a unique and natural sweetness.