1 tsp per cup | 212° | Steep for 3-5 minutes
I drink tea all day long! I used to drink five or six cups a day, but I cut back because it was getting to be too much. Now, I enjoy my black tea or roasted mate in the morning and follow-up with a variety of herbal teas during the day. I’ve long been obsessed with rooibos tea, or African red bush tea. One of my friend’s aunts used to send him red bush tea from South Africa that we would drink after runs or when we were just hanging out. This quickly became one of my favorite teas because of its sweet, earthy flavor.
History of Rooibos Tea
Unlike a lot of other teas, rooibos tea is from the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa. The tea leaves, or nettles, are harvested from the red bush, or aspalathus linearis. The tea was originally harvested and used by Cederberg’s indigenous communities, but the arrival of the Dutch in the late eighteenth century and a German settler with ties to tea manufacturing brought this type of tea to the world.1 Although the tea was introduced to the world market during the first half of the twentieth century, it didn’t take off until the 1970’s when Annique Theron published a book about the health benefits of tea.
Like many other teas, and wine for that matter, location matters. Rooibos is exclusively grown in South Africa. Since rooibos has been gaining popularity in the West over the last few years, tea production has largely moved to full-scale agricultural production versus harvesting wild rooibos. In fact, South Africa now exports 6,000 tons of rooibos every year.2 Like other forms of international tea production, making sure that farmers receive a fair wage for their effort is one of the most important factors. Tea cooperatives have given producers control over production, pricing, and processing, rather than having to work through middlemen that take a large cut of the profits. Alternative trade organizations and fair trade companies are mission-driven distributors that are trying to make sure small farmers receive the profit they deserve.
Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea
Except for the fact that rooibos tea is completely delicious, many people have picked up the tea drinking habit for the health benefits. Rooibos tea has a long list of health benefits, including its antioxidant content. If you’re cutting back on caffeine, then good news – rooibos is caffeine free! One cup of tea provides you with protein, calcium, magnesium, and enough fluoride to produce a anti-cariogenic effect, which means that it helps prevent tooth decay.3 When consumed too frequently, the high tannin level of black teas can have harsh effects on your body. Rooibos tea has a low tannin level, so it doesn’t interfere with digesting protein. Here are some of the highlights of the health benefits of rooibos tea:
- Contains protein, calcium, and magnesium
- Reduce nervous tension & help produce sound sleep
- Rich source of antioxidants due to its flavanoid content4
- Reduces oxidative stress
Flavor Profile of Rooibos Tea
Now that you know all about rooibos tea, you might want to brew yourself a cup. The best rooibos tea can be found in your local health food store. Look for Fair Trade, loose-leaf tea. Brew 1 tsp of tea in 8oz of 212° water for 3-5 minutes. Rooibos has a sweet, earthy flavor that fills up your palette quickly. It’s delicious when added to cookies, breads, and pancakes.