Rooibos Tea Facts

What is Rooibos Tea?

Also known as the ‘red bush’ rooibos (Aspalathus Linearisis) is a shrub belonging to the pea family. The rooibos plant grows to a height of about 1.5 metres and is similar to a gorse shrub. It is made from thin, chopped up twigs and the needle-type leaves.  The home of the green as well as the red rooibos is situated at the South African west coast Cederberg region, close to the Cedar Mountains.Cederberg range in south aftica

Map showing the Cederberg Range

The History of Rooibos Tea

The Chinese were the first exporters of tea.  During this time the Dutch East India Company would set up refreshment stations for the sailors.  The Dutch became fond of the drink and consequently became the first importers of tea to Europe in the mid 1660's.  
When the Dutch began to migrate and colonize in parts of South Africa, including the Cederberg region they discovered the Rooibos plant could be used to make a tea.  This tea was a welcome relief from the high cost of importing tea from China and it quickly became popular.  In 1904 a settler named Benjamin Ginsberg began to market and sell the tea, which he called Mountain tea due to its proximity to the Cederberg Ranges.
It wasn't until 1930 that a botanist by the name of Dr. Le Fras Nortier began to grow and cultivate Rooibos tea on a larger scale and from here Rooibos tea was born.  When WW2 came along it made access to imported teas very difficult which further grew the popularity of this tea in Southern Africa.  By the mid 1950's Rooibos was beginning to enter the international market and has grown in popularity due to being caffeine free and full of health benefits.

Processing of Rooibos Tea

The Rooibos plant is harvested when it is around 18 months old and reaches a height of 30-40cm. The leaves are carefully cut, bruised, aired, and moistened. They are then heaped together and left to ferment, which gives them their distinctive reddish-brown colour and enhances their flavour. After fermentation, the leaves are spread out to dry in the bright African sun, where they lose any remaining moisture and are ready for packaging.  In the case of the green rooibos, the process of fermentation is avoided due to immediate drying the raw material. 
Rooibos shrub from Africa

Rooibos bush in South Africa

Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea

Rooibos does not contain any caffeine or sugar, but it has traces of fluoride, iron, potassium, copper instead, as well as vitamin C and flavonoids.  It has been used by pregnant African women for its healthful properties and is considered a great support to healthy dieting.  Some of the potential health benefits of Rooibos tea are listed below:

1) Prevent cancers - Rooibos is full of Polyphenols, natural chemicals that have antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant properties.  They scavenge around the body to help protect it from cancer causing agents.

2) Lowers blood pressure - Rooibos is known for treating nervous tension and high blood pressure.  This in turn can help reduce the chance of heart attacks and other heart related health issues.

3) Can support liver and digestion - Rooibos contains multiple antispasmodic compounds which help reduce the occurrence of abdominal pain and reduces the incidences of diarrhoea.  It also increases the antioxidant levels in the liver, allowing for optimal functionality.

4) Blood sugar management - Rooibos contains the rare antioxidant called Aspalathin. Aspalathin improves insulin resistance in the body, balances blood sugar levels, encourages glucose to be absorbed into the muscles and increases insulin release from the pancreas.  It is therefore beneficial to those suffering from diabetes, or who are at risk of developing diabetes.

5)  Healthy skin, hair and bones - Rooibos contains naturally occuring alpha hydroxy acid. This is the same compound found in many skin treatments and helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  The high levels of antioxidants can help prevent hair follicles from being damaged, promoting healthy hair.  Rooibos is high in calcium, manganese and fluoride and is known to increase osteoblast activity which in turn strengthens bones.  

6) Weight management - Rooibos is low in calories.  Swap your tea of coffee served with milk and sugar for a lower calorie alternative.  Rooibos is also naturally sweet and can starve off sugar cravings.  In addition, Rooibos is a stress reliever, which in turn can discourage stress related eating habits.

*You can also try our skinny tea for weight loss. Check it out here.

Rooibos tea - loose leaf and in a cup


How to prepare Rooibos tea:

Used filtered water where possible and don't over brew the tea or it will become too strong.

Red rooibos:

1-2 teaspoons per cup. Brew for 5-10 minutes in boiling water.

Green rooibos:

1-2 teaspoons per cup. Brew for 5 minutes in boiling water.

Iced rooibos:  

Brew your rooibos tea as above.  Chill then add ice cubes.

Check out our certified organic Rooibos loose leaf tea.

Rooibos tea is a delicious and healthy herbal tea that is packed with antioxidants and associated with several health benefits. It is caffeine-free and has a sweet, nutty flavour that is perfect for any time of day. If you're looking for a new tea to add to your collection, be sure to give rooibos tea a try!

Rooibos tea in a cup