Rooibos tea is a delicious, smooth brew grown in the South African mountains of Cederberg, a part of the Western Cape.
Rooibos, or Aspalathus linearis, is known as "red bush tea" despite its yellow-green leaves.
The secret color lies in the brewing process; when the leaves are fermented, they turn reddish-brown and impart delicious earthy notes into each warm cup.
Tea lovers often compare red rooibos to a smooth, caffeine-free version of Yerba mate and Hibiscus together. When brewed, there's no trace of bitterness as one might expect, like with Yerba – thanks to the lack of tannins - and each cup smells like sweet, earthy bark.
This soothing beverage may seem too good to be accurate, but it offers several health advantages that have brought consumers and researchers to its attention.
We explore the advantages of red and green rooibos in this post and why this tea is unique from the other varieties in your cabinet.
Red Rooibos: A Timeless Natural Remedy
Red rooibos tea has been utilized in African culture as a delightful drink to improve health.
Rooibos contains healthy antioxidants that protect the body from oxidative stress in cells and psychological stress, which would suggest that it helps protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Dementia, protecting the body from premature aging.
There has even been some insight that green and fermented (red) rooibos can aid the body in healing topical wounds.
The people of Cederberg knew this well and have used this plant in herbal remedies for centuries for everything from insomnia to digestive troubles and even skin blemishes and wounds.
However, rooibos has been outside the spotlight for long enough that literature is still ongoing in the Western world. While the trends continue and rooibos makes its way into the mainstream, many popular brands are beginning to "over-hype" the benefits of rooibos without any scientific backing, leading people astray in the new fad.
That's why, at WildFoodCo, we ensure that medical journals and scientific studies back any benefits listed. Nothing is left up to estimation or opinion - only facts.
What is the Difference Between Red Rooibos and Green Rooibos?
Many people know about red rooibos, but did you know there is a green rooibos as well?
Red rooibos is created by allowing the leaves to ferment after picking before they go on to the drying process.
Green rooibos is not permitted to oxidize and instead moves directly to the drying process, locking in more of the plant's many beneficial enzymes.
While red rooibos tastes earthy and sweet, green rooibos carries a lighter, grassier flavor.
Both types of tea can hold other flavors without diminishing the rooibos taste, making it perfect for dressing up each cup and adding lemon, spices, chocolate, or milk.
We chose to supply green rooibos because they have more antioxidants than red. Because green has not fermented, the chemical compounds have been locked in sooner, whereas red has had time to oxidize, which releases some compounds within the leaves.
Rooibos Tea Benefits
The #1 Benefit: A Caffeine-Free Beverage Full of Antioxidants
In an over-caffeinated world, this is a huge advantage. Many commonly available teas are meant to promote sleep or are loaded with caffeine to replace your morning coffee.
With rooibos, you get the benefits of a delicious beverage packed with antioxidants without the caffeine rush (and later crash) that comes afterward.
Benefit #2: Rooibos Won't Stain Your Teeth
Many websites state that rooibos has no tannins, but this is incorrect. Many plant foods contain tannins; however, rooibos has a much lower concentration than you might see in green or black tea. Tannins are responsible for the pigment in darker teas that stains the enamel on your teeth.
The level of tannins depends on the level of fermentation, storage time, and a variety of other factors, so testing is complex.
Tannins give tea its bitter aftertaste and deep pigmentation so you can taste the difference in each brand.
WildFoodCo's Thai G Green Rooibos is much lower in tannins than traditional red rooibos, with deliciously refreshing additions of ginger and lime.
Suggested CTA block: Add Thai G. Green Rooibos to Your Cart
Benefit #3: Rooibos is Packed with Antioxidants, Zinc, and Other Minerals
In addition to being free of caffeine and low in tannins, rooibos is packed full of volatile compounds, polyphenols – which make up its antioxidant properties – and several minerals, such as zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Benefit #4: Rooibos Shows Promising Results for Diabetes Control
In preliminary studies, rooibos has been shown to enhance insulin release positively and glucose uptake. These promising antidiabetic effects require further investigation, but they may be helpful in combination with other therapeutics.
Is Rooibos Tea Ethically Harvested?
In many cases, rooibos tea is indeed ethically harvested.
Since rooibos only grows in one region of the world, yet the world's demand is increasing, there's growing concern that the plant might become over-harvested – or the environment might be harmed in the process.
Foreigners and locals and locals alike exacerbate these concerns over harvesting raw materials in Africa. Locals are looking to make a living in a tough economy, and foreigners seek to exploit the goods the continent offers.
This leaves conscious consumers wondering if rooibos tea is ethically harvested or if they're contributing the unethical ecological destruction by enjoying their daily cup of rooibos.
At Wild Foods Co, our rooibos is ethically harvested. We only supply rooibos that is sourced from farmers in the Cederberg region.
Locals who live where the farm will tend the land ethically, with fair trade practices that ensure the ecosystem remains balanced and intact.
How to Spice Up Rooibos Tea
The flavor of rooibos by itself is lovely, but there are always ways you can improve upon the taste and "dress up" your new favorite tea.
Sugar (or Stevia) and Milk
You'll adore this dish if you have a sweet tooth. Prepare a cup of hot rooibos tea, let it steep, and then, to taste, sweeten it and add milk. Add a little cream for a fuller cup.
Coined by the deep red coloration that comes from preparing rooibos as espresso, "red espresso" is gaining popularity in many countries and can be made in various ways.
The most popular way is to prepare it with a stovetop espresso maker. Brew it as you would with coffee grounds, and enjoy your red espresso!
Mix up the traditional flavors of rooibos and brew them in a cold brew container with some added ginger, honey, and lemon.
Need a cold brew maker?
Toss all the ingredients into a cheesecloth, secure it, and toss it into a refrigerated jar with cold water.
How do you prepare your rooibos from WildFoodCo? Let us know in the comments below.