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What is RooiBos or Red Bush Tea?

First of all, white/green/oolong/black tea is all made from the leaves from the camellia sinensis plant. The end product simply depends on how long the leaves have been fermented.

Red Bush (pronounced roy-boss) on the other hand is a completely different plant grown in the Western Cape Province. The leaves are actually green but turn red when oxidized.

What Does it Taste Like?

It has  its distinctive smell.  It can take some time to aquire the taste. 

Some people admit that they prefer it to green tea, it’s a lot more flavoursome.

The health benefits of Red Bush are very similar to tea made from camellia sinensis leaves.

  1. Contains similar amounts of polyphenols and has been shown to be anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral activity.
  2. Naturally caffeine-free so is ideal for people who want to cut back on caffeine or want to drink it before going to bed. Actually it’s recommended you drink it before going to bed as it can help with insomnia. It’s also very low in tannins.
  3. Contains calcium, manganese and fluoride to help build strong teeth and bones.
  4. Can be given to infants suffering from colic, sleeping problems or stomach cramps. Simply add some milk to the tea.
  5. Contains alpha hydroxy acid and zinc which is great for the skin. You can even apply it directly to the skin to help with acne, eczema and sunburn etc.
  6. People with kidney stones can drink it because there’s no oxalic acid.
  7. Full of vitamins and minerals such as zinc, copper, calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium.
  8. What is in Rooibos tea?The biological makeup of Rooibos is a trace amount of oxalic acid, copper, iron, potassium, calcium, fluoride, zinc, manganese, alpha-hydroxyl and magnesium. It contains anti-oxidants, flavonoids, Vitamin C and tannins, though the Vitamin C component has been disputed.

How Rooibos is Produced

  1. Red bush, a shrub, is found in South Africa, near the Cape of Good Hope. It has been called one of the richest biomes in the world. The shrub has a botanical name called "Fynbos," one of more than 300 species of its kind in South Africa. It is said to be more than 400 years old. The bush is cut with a sickle and bruised with rocks, and then left in the sun to ferment. Modern equipment now handles the ancient aging process, though the bush is still cut by hand and then homogenise.

Key facts about the composition of Rooibos, and the importance of its compounds, can be summarised as follows:

  • Rooibos contains a complex mix of many flavonoids (compounds widely found in plants that are known to have health benefits).
  • Its composition is unique, because it contains aspalathin - to date only isolated from Aspalathus linearis (the botanical name for Rooibos).
  • Aspalathin is the major flavonoid of unfermented Rooibos. It decreases during fermentation, but is still a major flavonoid constituent of fermented Rooibos (the tea with the characteristic red-brown colour and flavour).
  • Aspalathin is important, not only because it is a novel compound, but also because it is the mostactive antioxidant in Rooibos in many cases.
  • Rooibos also contains the rare flavonoid glucoside nothofagin.
  • Other major phenolic compounds are orientin and iso-orientin, with smaller amounts of vitexinand isovitexin and many more compounds.
  • The flavonoid composition of Rooibos varies between different regions and seasons, probably due to different soil and climate conditions, as well as genetic variations in the seeds used to propagate the plant.
  • Rooibos is naturally caffeine free.
  • It is considered a low tannin beverage, especially when compared to Camellia sinensis (black) tea.

What Rooibos can do for you
Medical science is only beginning to discover the many health advantages of Rooibos. On-going research and case studies confirm that there seems to be no end to its benefits.

  • Rooibos is completely pure and natural as it contains no additives, preservatives or colourants.
  • Rooibos is naturally caffeine free.
  • Rooibos contains antioxidants that fight free radicals (a by-product of normal cell function), which weaken the body's natural defences and lead to ageing, the declining of the immune system and the onset of a wide variety of diseases.
  • Rooibos contains alpha hydroxy acid.
  • Rooibos contains no oxalic acid.
  • Rooibos is an excellent thirst-quencher to keep the body hydrated.

Other Health Benefits

  1. Rooibos, when mixed with milk, can be given to babies to help with colic. It has been shown to help with insomnia, irritability, headaches, nervous tension and hypertension. Some studies have shown Rooibos tea to have cardiovascular benefits, as well as protective qualities against cancer, rashes and allergies. It is said that this tea helps in the prevention of kidney stones.