Consumed in southern Africa for centuries, it has become a beloved beverage around the world.
Rooibos tea is gaining popularity as a delicious and healthy beverage. It is a tasty, caffeine-free alternative to black and green tea.
Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) tea is less well known than its green, black, and oolong alternatives, but it has excellent health benefits and a delicate flavor that is sweet and aromatic.
Rooibos tea contains antioxidants , enzymes, and chemical compounds that help skin look younger, reduce inflammation that causes pain, and prevent serious illness.
Rooibos tea, also known as red tea, is unique in that it is grown primarily on the African continent and contains polyphenols, such as aspalatine, that are not found in any other food.
With powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, drinking a cuppa rooibos tea every day can help you stay healthy.
What is rooibos tea?
When ordering red tea, you might be surprised to find that sometimes you end up drinking black tea instead of rooibos tea, depending on the region you are in.
This is because in China, the term red tea is used to describe traditional black tea. For all intents and purposes, red tea in the western world refers to rooibos tea.
Rooibos tea is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant. Rooibos means “red bush” in Afrikaans and refers to the rich, deep crimson color of rooibos tea.
Rooibos tea is made from the long leaves of the plant, which are green when still growing on the plant and turn red during the fermentation process.
The Aspalathus linearis plant is native to South Africa and, like most teas, contains high levels of polyphenols that provide a variety of health benefits. Rooibos tea is grown mainly in the mountainous Cederberg region of South Africa, in the Western Cape province.
Rooibos tea has a sweet, nutty flavor that is often compared to hibiscus tea, and earthy tones that are similar to yerba mate teas. It is also described as having notes of caramel, vanilla, and a smoky scent that is compared to tobacco.
Rooibos tea has a slight mouthfeel that is subtle and not overpowering. It is often described as having a neutral, sweet flavor profile that can be enhanced with lemon wedges or a hint of honey.
Rooibos tea also contains no caffeine, making it a good drink at any time of the day. Thanks to its high concentration of vitamins and polyphenols, rooibos tea not only offers a delicious taste, but also helps to stay healthy.
Rooibos tea contains vital minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and alpha hydroxyl acid.
As with most true teas and herbal teas, it also contains high levels of vitamin C along with powerful antioxidants, such as aspalatin, which offer extensive health benefits.
Rooibos tea contains polyphenols that help fight free radicals, keeping your body healthy and ready for the day.
Rooibos tea health benefits
1. Helps weight loss
Like green tea and black tea, drinking rooibos tea is a great way to enjoy a delicious beverage without gaining weight.
Each cup of rooibos tea contains only 2-4 calories, so you can sip on this delicious smoked beverage without worrying about ruining your diet.
Keep in mind that adding sugar, honey, or other sweeteners can increase the number of calories, so keep the additions to a minimum if your goal is to lose weight.
2. Improves the appearance of the skin
Rooibos tea contains alpha hydroxy acid, which is one of the main ingredients in skin treatments like chemical peels that you can get at your dermatologist’s office.
Not particularly common in food, the alpha hydroxy acid in rooibos tea can aid in your skincare routine and help reduce wrinkles.
In a 28-day clinical study, a tea and rooibos formula demonstrated an almost 10 percent improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Rooibos tea offers a calming effect, thus reducing irritation and redness resulting in a more even skin. Rooibos tea also contains zinc, which has shown potential to help treat common skin conditions such as eczema and acne.
Rooibos tea contains superoxide dismutase, which has anti-aging properties and helps slow the development of wrinkles.
Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme that works to produce healthy skin cells that keep you looking younger for longer. This enzyme works in conjunction with other antioxidants in rooibos tea to fight free radicals that can speed up the aging process.
While more research is needed, there is evidence that drinking a cup or two of rooibos tea per day can keep skin looking even and youthful.
3. Relieves pain
Rooibos tea contains antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation and feelings of pain and discomfort.
The antispasmodic compounds in rooibos tea help relieve abdominal pain such as stomach cramps by activating potassium ions throughout the body.
By reducing inflammation, rooibos tea can also help treat painful arthritis symptoms. Rooibos tea is also high in vitamin C, which is used to repair collagen and connective tissue in the joints.
4. Provides relief from allergies
This South African beer contains a bioactive flavonoid known as chrysoeriol, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Working as a bronchodilator, rooibos tea can help relieve feelings of wheezing and coughing caused by allergic rhinitis and asthma.
Rooibos tea contains another flavonoid called quercetin that helps prevent allergies from kicking in in the first place. Quercetin essentially blocks mast cells, which are responsible for releasing histamine, the main element that triggers an allergic response.
In essence, rooibos tea works as an antihistamine, without the sleepy side effects that accompany many of those medications.
While not a substitute for advanced allergy treatments such as inhaled corticosteroids and high doses of antihistamines, drinking a few cups of rooibos tea every day can limit the overreacting immune response that triggers allergies.
5. Helps build strong bones
Like true teas and many herbal teas, rooibos tea contains minerals like calcium, manganese, and fluoride that help build strong bones.
These minerals produce increased activity of osteoblast calls, which are responsible for building strong bone mass.
While many teas contain these essential minerals that help protect healthy bones and prevent diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis , rooibos contains two other compounds that are even more beneficial for bone health.
Rooibos tea contains the flavonoids luteolin and orientin, which studies have shown have the potential to increase mineral content in bones.
6. Speeds up digestion
Many Americans struggle with digestive problems. The rising incidence of conditions like celiac disease, acid reflux, and chronic stomach upset shows no signs of stopping.
While many digestive problems can be attributed to a poor diet high in processed foods, support for the potential digestive benefits of drinking tea also increases.
Rooibos tea contains several nutrients that are antispasmodic, which help prevent stomach aches.
A study published in the Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology Journal showed that compounds like quercetin, orientin, and vitexin helped relax the digestive system and ease feelings of discomfort.
This same study showed that the tannins in rooibos tea had the potential to reduce diarrhea symptoms.
7. It can help control or prevent diabetes
Drinking rooibos tea can help control diabetes or prevent the onset of diabetes. An animal study in Tokyo in 2013 showed that the polyphenols in rooibos tea work to regulate blood sugar levels and increase glucose tolerance in diabetic mice.
Specifically, the polyphenol aspalatine works to increase glucose uptake and suppress the rise in fasting glucose levels that can lead to blood sugar spikes in people with diabetes.
The mice in this study received aspalatin at levels similar to those found in rooibos tea for five weeks. Mice were also shown to have lower levels of expression in genes that have been linked to inherited risks of diabetes.
8. Supports heart health
Rooibos tea is great for heart health and helps keep your blood circulation pumping smoothly.
Containing the flavonoid cryoseriol which is a bronchodilator, this compound is also an effective agent for lowering high blood pressure and increasing circulation.
The relaxing effects of rooibos tea help open blood vessels, while antioxidants reduce bad cholesterol and prevent plaque build-up.
A 2015 Korean study found that aspalatine which is credited with regulating the symptoms of diabetes could also prevent dangerous diseases such as heart disease and heart attacks.
Aspalatine works to reduce the risk of hypertension through hormonal regulation. This polyphenol can also help prevent vascular inflammation that can restrict blood flow to the heart.
Rooibos tea side effects
Red rooibos tea is generally safe to drink and has shown little to no side effects. Existing side effects are restricted to certain populations and usually only occur in large doses.
Rooibos tea has shown estrogenic activity, which means that it can increase the production of the female hormone, estrogen.
Although not normally a concern, people with breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive illnesses can consult a doctor before drinking rooibos tea.
As with many other teas, the antioxidants and chemicals in rooibos tea can interfere with medications. Consult your doctor before adding rooibos tea to your diet if you are taking any medications.
Remember that research is ongoing, so using rooibos tea as a replacement for any medication is not recommended without consulting with medical professionals.
How to prepare Rooibos tea
Rooibos tea can be consumed cold for a refreshing break during the summer heat, or as a very hot beverage to warm up when you feel cold or approaching cold.
Since it does not contain caffeine, you can drink rooibos tea before bed and you don’t have to worry about insomnia.
Step 1: prepare the tea leaves
If you are using a rooibos tea bag, simply brew according to the directions. If you are brewing loose leaf rooibos tea, aim for one heaping teaspoon of the leaves for every 8 ounces of water.
Between uses, be sure to store the tea leaves in a dark, airtight container to preserve flavor and aroma profiles.
Step 2: prepare the water
Rooibos tea is best enjoyed using plain or filtered water. Make sure you don’t use distilled water when making tea, as it doesn’t allow the flavors to develop properly. Rooibos tea should be made with boiling water.
Step 3: Steep the Rooibos Tea
Rooibos tea should be steeped for at least 4 to 5 minutes, although some brands recommend keeping it up to 10 minutes for further antioxidant development. It can be consumed as is or add milk, honey or sugar for a sweeter taste.
Its use to treat ailments
Rooibos tea shows promise in treating common ailments like pain and skin conditions, as well as more serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
With a rich crimson color that is visually pleasing along with a subtle, fruity, smoky flavor profile, drinking rooibos tea is a delight. Drink, experience this sweet tea and reap the health benefits.