Rooibos tea or ‘redbush’ tea has long been celebrated for its wellbeing properties. One of Time Magazine’s top 50 healthiest foods, today there are ongoing studies around the world into the various rooibos tea benefits. Here is a guide to some of the special aspects of this much-loved South African tea.
NATURALLY CAFFEINE FREE ROOIBOS BENEFITS
The best known health benefit of rooibos tea (pronounced ‘roy boss’) is that it is naturally caffeine-free. Traditional black or green tea is made from the camelia sinensis plant which contains caffeine. However, Rooibos comes from the aspalathus linearis shrub, part of the pea and bean family, and has absolutely no caffeine in its genetic make-up. This means that unlike decaffeinated black tea, it does not have to undergo any chemical processing to have caffeine removed. Because rooibos has a full and rich taste, it can take milk, and therefore it makes a delicious alternative to black tea for those trying to reduce their caffeine intake.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant which consumed in moderation can have some benefits especially when it comes to short-term alertness. However, when consumed in excess it can also lead to a number of adverse side effects, including palpitations, high blood pressure and anxiety. It can also affect our sleep, both in quantity and quality, contributing to insomnia and poor sleep patterns. We are then more tired in the morning and so drink more caffeine to try to stay alert. Children and pregnant women are commonly advised to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks, and so rooibos is a delicious and natural option for the whole family - especially as a tea to drink before bedtime.
ROOIBOS LOW IN TANNINS BENEFITS
As well as being naturally caffeine free, rooibos tea has very low levels of tannins. Tannins are bitter-tasting chemical structures produced by plants that are present in black and green teas and can interfere with iron absorption. Iron is an important part of a healthy diet and is key to making red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. High levels of tannins in black teas account for the need to add milk and sugar to lessen the natural bitterness and astringency. In comparison, rooibos tea is wonderfully smooth and naturally sweet, and can therefore be drunk black as well as white.
BENEFITS OF ANTIOXIDANTS IN ROOBIOS
Rooibos is also known for being rich in powerful antioxidants, most notably aspalathin, a flavonoid antioxidant particular to rooibos. It is thought that regular consumption of antioxidant-rich substances can help prevent the destructive effects of free radicals, which have been linked to conditions such as heart disease, stroke and cancer. Antioxidants could therefore help boost the body’s immune system and internal defences against disease. Studies also suggest that rooibos might have anti-inflammatory properties and that drinking rooibos tea could contribute to more balanced blood sugar levels, so important in type 2 diabetes for example.
ROOIBOS TEA SOOTHING BENEFITS
In South Africa, rooibos tea has also long been known for its soothing properties and for generations has been given to infants with colic as well as those with stomach cramps and other kinds of digestive and gut health issues. This soothing aspect has also made it useful for anxiety, as well as for asthma, allergies and dermatological problems such as eczema, and even sunburn.
ROOIBOS FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Rooibos tea has also been linked to weight loss, as featured in Channel 4's Food Unwrapped series. In the programme, they looked at ongoing research and discussed 'the secret ingredient in redbush tea that could help us burn fat'. Rooibos tea is ideal as part of a healthier lifestyle as it contains no sugar or dairy when consumed on its own and is wonderfully hydrating and gentle.
HOW TO DRINK ROOIBOS TEA
Experts say that six cups of rooibos tea a day is the recommended amount, but we think even one cup will do good! The best way to drink rooibos tea is to simply add boiling water and leave to brew until it is at the strength you are looking for. The longer you leave it the darker the colour and deeper the flavours. Naturally sweet with a slightly nutty taste and honeyed notes, unlike other herbal teas, it can be enjoyed with or without milk; you can add honey, a slice of lemon or ginger, and it also makes a fabulous iced tea with some fresh mint and lemon.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
Sometimes those who are new to rooibos ask if there are any side effects. In answering, the Rooibos Council states “After centuries of use, no negative side effects of Rooibos have ever been recorded.” Both young and old have enjoyed this special tea for generations and at Tick Tock we look forward to sharing our delicious and healthy rooibos with tea lovers for years to come.