Rooibos Redbush Tea

Redbush, also known as Rooibos (pronounced roy-bose), is a South African herbal tea made from the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant, which is indigenous to the fynbos biome in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Despite its name, rooibos is not derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is used to produce traditional black tea, green tea and white tea. The plant is a member of the legume family and closely resembles a broom!

Historical Use of Rooibos

In the 17th and 18th centuries, immigrants to the Cape area of South Africa praised the locale for its wealth of “beneficial plants”. Indeed, Japan and other countries in the East have been using Rooibos for quite some time, whereas only recently has the tea been introduced in England and the United States.

Upon its arrival in the West, testing was performed on Rooibos to ascertain its healing properties, and the testing continues to date. Historical use gives us lots of evidence of those healing properties.

Cultivation of Rooibos

Rooibos grows naturally in a small corner of South Africa and must be harvested by hand, as the dense plant life in this area prohibits the entry and operation of machinery.

Despite its name, the tea is typically made from green leaves, not red. The leaves are oxidized, a process that changes their color from green to the characteristic red-brown hue associated with Rooibos tea.

Rooibos can be used raw, when the leaf is cut, to rub onto the skin to treat rashes, cuts and abrasions. The leaves can be ground and brewed as a tea or they can be made into an aromatic for the alleviation of symptoms of bronchitis, asthma and allergies. The red oxidised leaves have a somewhat nutty flavor. The non oxidized green leaves have a grassy, malty type flavor.

Here’s a basic overview of the Rooibos preparation process:

Harvesting: The leaves are harvested from the Aspalathus linearis plant.

Processing: After harvesting, the leaves undergo a process of bruising and oxidation. This process causes the leaves to change color from green to red.

Drying: The oxidized leaves are then dried.

Cutting: Once dried, the leaves are cut into the fine tea leaves that are used to make Rooibos tea.

The oxidation process is crucial in developing the flavor and color of Rooibos tea. It’s important to note that, unlike traditional tea made from the Camellia sinensis plant, Rooibos tea is naturally caffeine-free.

So, while the tea is called “Red Bush Tea,” it is not made from the red parts of the plant but from the oxidized green leaves, which turn red during processing.

Active Ingredients in Rooibos

Rooibos contains vitamins and minerals such as zinccoppercalciummanganese, magnesium,
potassium and vitamin C. It also contains fluoride, which, in combination with calcium and manganese, help build strong bones and teeth. Rooibos contains polyphenols which are known to be anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.

Health Benefits of Rooibos

WebMD states that while not all the properties of Rooibos tea and leaves have been tested on humans, on lab rats tested for various conditions pertaining to the effects of the plant, there is quite some evidence that the plant can live up to its reputation.

Rooibos offers many health benefits, which we will explore in more detail below:

Rooibos to Fight Cancer
Rooibos has cancer-fighting properties as well as immune system strengtheners, both of which help with anti-cancer treatment.

Rooibos is Rich in Antioxidants
Rooibos tea is rich in antioxidants, including quercetin and aspalathin. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals in the body, potentially reducing oxidative stress and the risk of chronic diseases.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Rooibos
Some studies suggest that Rooibos tea may have anti-inflammatory effects, which could be beneficial in managing inflammation-related conditions.

Rooibos for Respiratory Help
Yet another benefit of Rooibos tea lies in its flavonoid content. Flavonoids have the anti-spasmodic properties highly sought by asthmatics, those with bronchial problems requiring a bronchodilator, and those suffering from allergies. Anti-inflammatory properties help in these cases, too. A cloth moistened in the hot tea and inhaled is said to be beneficial in these instances.

Improve Heart Health with Rooibos
Rooibos tea has been associated with potential cardiovascular benefits. It may help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels, contributing to heart health.

Rooibos for Cardiovascular Health
There is some evidence that Rooibos’ components quercetin and luteolin could prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke. Its component, rutin, has been seen to help with the maintenance of blood vessels walls.

Rooibos for Digestive Health
The tea is known for its calming effect on the digestive system and may help alleviate indigestion and stomach issues. It is caffeine-free, making it a suitable choice for individuals with sensitivity to caffeine.

Rooibos may Support Blood Sugar Control
Some research indicates that rooibos tea may have a positive impact on blood sugar levels, making it potentially beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar.

Rooibos for Skin Health
The antioxidants in rooibos tea may contribute to skin health. Some people use it topically or consume it for its potential anti-aging effects and skin-soothing properties. The leaves of the plant have alpha hydroxy in them, which benefits the skin. Cuts, abrasions, rashes, acne, eczema and sunburn are just a few of the conditions that would benefit from the use of rooibos. Not only that, but alpha hydroxy has shown substantial evidence of helping with the aging process.

Rooibos for Insomnia
When made into tea, Rooibos is not acidic, unlike normal black tea that contains tannins, meaning that infants can drink the tea with milk to put them to sleep or adults could drink the tea for use with insomnia.

Stay Hydrated with Rooibos
Rooibos tea is a hydrating beverage and can be a good alternative to caffeinated drinks, contributing to overall hydration. Those with kidney stone problems can drink it as well, as it leaves behind no sediment common to the formation of kidney stones.

Rooibos Further Reading

In a blog post, Lähettänyt JLL of Inhuman Experiment wrote of the following benefits of Rooibos tea:

  • Prevents DNA damage
  • Cardiovascular protection through ACE inhibition
  • Suppresses fasting glucose levels
  • Improves glucose uptake and insulin secretion after a meal
  • Aids in liver tissue regeneration
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Inhibits lipid peroxidation and brain aging
  • Rooibos extract improves immune defects such as HIV

How to Drink Rooibos Tea

Rooibos is a caffeine-free herbal tea infusion with a distinct flavor and reddish-brown color.

Rooibos tea has gained popularity Worldwide due to its unique taste, potential health benefits and versatility. It has a naturally sweet and nutty flavor, with hints of vanilla and caramel, making it a popular choice for both hot and iced tea beverages.

It is common to see Rooibos consumed as tea. Rooibos can be enjoyed on its own or blended with other herbs, spices or fruits to create a variety of flavored teas.

Without milk and sugar, the tea is sweet enough, but many people still choose to add milk as this is what they are used to. Rooibos makes a nice iced tea as well.

Coffee shops even use it, brewing it into espressos and lattes; because it is caffeine-free, it makes an excellent night time beverage.

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Rooibos Redbush Tea Notes / Side Effects

Rooibos tea is generally considered safe for most people when consumed in moderate amounts as a beverage. It is caffeine-free and low in tannins, making it a suitable option for individuals who are sensitive to caffeine or experience stomach irritation from tannins found in traditional teas.

However, while rooibos tea is well-tolerated by many, there are a few considerations and potential side effects to be aware of:

Allergic Reactions: While rare, some individuals may have allergic reactions to rooibos tea. Allergic responses can range from mild symptoms such as itching, rash, or hives to more severe reactions such as difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis. If you have a known allergy to plants in the Fabaceae family (such as peanuts, soybeans, or other legumes), you may be at higher risk of allergic reactions to rooibos tea.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: There is limited research on the safety of rooibos tea during pregnancy and breastfeeding. While rooibos tea is generally considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women when consumed in moderation, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating it into your diet, especially if you have any concerns or underlying health conditions.

Interactions with Medications: Rooibos tea may interact with certain medications, particularly those metabolized by the liver. There is some evidence to suggest that rooibos tea may affect the activity of cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are involved in the metabolism of various drugs. If you are taking medications, especially those with narrow therapeutic windows or that are metabolized by the liver, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before drinking rooibos tea regularly.

Iron Absorption: Some research suggests that rooibos tea may inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron (iron from plant-based sources) due to the presence of polyphenols, such as tannins, in the tea. While this effect is not well-documented and may not be significant for most individuals, it’s worth considering if you have concerns about iron absorption or if you have iron deficiency anemia.

Stomach Discomfort: While rooibos tea is generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience mild stomach discomfort or digestive issues, particularly if consumed in large amounts or on an empty stomach. If you experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, bloating, or diarrhea after drinking rooibos tea, consider reducing your intake or consuming it with food.

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