Rooibos is becoming more popular in Western countries particularly among health-conscious consumers, due to its high level of antioxidants such as aspalathin and nothofagin, its lack of caffeine, and its low tannin levels compared to fully oxidized black tea or unoxidized green tea leaves.
Rooibos is purported to assist with nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems.
Traditional medicinal uses of Rooibos in South Africa include alleviating infantile colic, allergies, asthma and dermatological problems. For skin treatments, Rooibos is brewed and placed directly on infected areas. Green Rooibos, especially effective for acne, rashes and other skin irritation, has a higher antioxidant capacity than fully oxidized Rooibos.
Rooibos, (pronounced “roy-boss”; Afrikaans for “red bush”; scientific name Aspalathus linearis) is a broom-like member of the legume family of plants.
The plant is used to make a herbal tea called Rooibos tea, bush tea (esp. southern Africa), redbush tea (esp. UK), South African red tea (esp. USA), or red tea. The product has been popular in southern Africa for generations and is now consumed in many countries.
Rooibos is grown only in a small area in of the Western Cape
Province of South Africa. Generally the leaves are oxidized which produces the distinctive reddish-brown colour of Rooibos and enhances the flavour. Unoxidized Green Rooibos is also produced, but the more demanding production process for Green Rooibos (similar to the
method by which green tea is produced) makes it more expensive than traditional Rooibos.
In South Africa it is more common to drink Rooibos with milk and sugar, but elsewhere it is usually served without. The flavour of Rooibos tea is often described as being sweet (without sugar added) and slightly nutty. Rooibos can be prepared in the same manner as black tea, and this is the most common method. Unlike black tea, however, Rooibos does not become bitter when steeped for a long time; some households leave the tea to steep for days at a time.