Rooibos tea is enjoying a moment in American culture. The tea has emerged from the shadows of the classic true teas and more popular herbal teas and taken the tea world by storm. It's exclusivity makes it naturally alluring while its flavor seals the deal when it comes to favorite tea lists.
If you're looking for a new cup of tea, try South African rooibos tea. Read on to find out more about this exquisite red bush tea and how you can enjoy it in your own home.
Rooibos tea—pronounced ROY-boss—is an herbal tea made from a plant that grows exclusively in South Africa. Since it is not made from the Camellia sinensis plant, it is not a true tea like white tea, green tea, black tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea. As an herbal tea, it is naturally caffeine-free.
Rooibos tea comes from the red bush plant known by the botanical name Aspalathus linearis. The plants are native to the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa, which can be found in the western region of the country, just northeast of Cape Town. The red bush tea is a national treasure and is not produced anywhere else in the world.
There are two main types of rooibos tea: red rooibos and green rooibos. Red rooibos tea is oxidized whereas green rooibos tea is not. For red rooibos, the leaves are harvested from the plants and then withered. Once the moisture content is around eight percent, the leaves are gently bruised, exposing the plant’s enzymes to oxygen. This causes the green leaves to gradually turn a deep reddish-brown color.
Red rooibos tea features a smooth body with sweet flavor. It is rich and slightly tart with floral undertones. It brews into a rich maroon color and emits a slight floral aroma.
Green rooibos tea is not oxidized so it maintains color characteristics of the natural leaves. It brews into a light green or pale yellow hue and tastes similar to green tea. It is earthy, grassy, and slightly malty. It also features a mild flavor and light body.
Green rooibos tea has higher concentrations of antioxidants than its counterpart since some of these antioxidants are destroyed during the oxidation process. In general, both types of rooibos tea contain high concentrations of vitamins and minerals that are good for human health.
Rooibos tea is a healthy herbal tea with few side effects. It does not contain any caffeine, so it can be consumed all day long. The tea can be made using tea bags or loose leaf tea, although experts generally agree that loose leaf tea contains more healthy compounds. That's because loose leaf varieties contain whole leaves, rather than broken bits and fannings of the leaves. Rooibos can be enjoyed as an iced tea or as a hot tea, depending on your preferences.
Drinking rooibos tea may help you reach your weight loss goals faster. Rooibos tea is naturally calorie-free so you can use it to replace sugary sodas and juices. The slightly sweet flavor is just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth and prevent you from overloading on the calories.
Animal studies also show that rooibos tea may help to manage a healthy weight. One particular study focused on the effects of stress on weight loss. Researchers used immobilization to increase stress levels in rats. The rats that were given water during the stress periods lost an average of 20 percent of their body weight. Rats given rooibos lost only four percent of their body weight. Researchers believe the rooibos helps to minimize the effects of stress that can lead to weight loss and potentially weight gain (1).
Drinking tea has long been associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Studies in China and Japan conducted on thousands of participants show that regular tea consumption can significantly lower cardiovascular disease risk (2).
Rooibos tea boasts anti-inflammatory properties that help to decrease inflammation in blood vessels (3). This improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, and helps to decrease the risk of heart attacks.
A study of 17 healthy volunteers also demonstrated the positive effects of rooibos tea on blood pressure. Researchers found that patients who drank rooibos tea had significant reductions of ACE or angiotensin-converting enzyme. Research shows that ACE may contribute to high blood pressure by increasing contractions in blood vessels. The study showed that ACE was inhibited just 30 minutes after consuming the South African red tea (4).
Like many teas, rooibos tea contains powerful antioxidants that help to eliminate free radicals. Free radicals are harmful agents that cause oxidative stress and have been linked to everything from premature aging to certain types of cancer. The antioxidants in rooibos prevent free radicals from damaging healthy cells.
Free radicals in rooibos can also help to eliminate toxins from the body. These effects were demonstrated in one small animal study. Researchers believe more trials and experiments need to be done, but there is evidence that indicates rooibos may be beneficial for the liver and may be useful in the treatment of kidney stones (5).
Rooibos Tea helps boost immune health thanks to natural compounds including vitamins and minerals. Rooibos leaves contain large amounts of vitamin C as well as potassium and magnesium. These compounds can support the body's natural defenses and fight off infections.
Research on rooibos is relatively new and still ongoing. Some very small studies have shown evidence that rooibos may help promote bone health and treat type 2 diabetes. Research shows that regular tea consumption is correlated with higher bone density. Experts attribute these potentially beneficial effects to the presence of tea polyphenols. Researchers have found that tea consumption helps to improve osteoblast activity and increases mineral content (6). These results still need to be replicated in larger trials.
Rooibos tea may also help in the treatment of diabetes. Rooibos tea naturally modulates blood sugar levels. While it can't cure diabetes, it may help patients regulate their blood sugar levels and prevent dangerous spikes from occurring.
Brew yourself a delicious cup of rooibos tea. Simply add one teaspoon of loose leaf rooibos to eight ounces of boiling water. Steep for five to six minutes and enjoy! Rooibos tea is commonly consumed with a slice of lemon or a dash of honey. Settle down in your favorite armchair and try this delightful African tea that's bursting with health benefits.