red rooibos, rooibos health benefits, roybos health benefits, how to brew rooibos

Spotlight: Red Rooibos

Have you tried red rooibos?

Pronounced “roy-bos,” it’s called “bush tea” in South Africa where it’s grown. But rooibos “tea” isn’t actually tea at all. It’s a caffeine-free herb that’s native (and exclusive) to South Africa.

It’s brewed just like tea leaves, creates a rich red liquor when brewed that has a slightly sweet flavor, and its aroma is filled with notes of tobacco and honey.

The more of this herb you steep and the longer you steep it, the more of the healthy benefits you can extract from it.

Who decided it should be a drink anyway?

Dutch settlers in South Africa were looking for an inexpensive alternative to the tea they were accustomed to drinking. But rooibos wasn’t grown as a crop back in the 18th century. It wasn’t until the 1930s until a commercial crop was grown. And it’s only been in the last couple decades that it’s become popular outside of South Africa.

Rooibos is made from a shrub in the legume family. It grows exclusively in South Africa, and it’s processed a lot like tea from the camellia sinensis plant.

Why’s it such a big deal?

This herb contains polyphenols. Research also shows that it contains phenolic acids, which are substances found in fruits, veggies, and whole grains that we already know have antioxidant properties.

It also has anti-inflammatory properties. (Men: close your ears.) Just before you’re about to start your cycle, drink lots of this magical elixir. You may notice pain from cramping is lessened. (I got this info from from my doctor who knows her stuff.)

And more scientific research is exploring how these properties may positively impact our bodies. In an article published in the Public Library of Science, scientists found positive results in lab rats giving them rooibos to combat the effects of oxidative stress on their bodies. (Anti-Oxidative Effects of Rooibos Tea on Immobilization-Induced Oxidative Stress in Rat Brain,” by In-Su Hong, Hwa-Yong Lee, and Hyun-Pyo Kim, 2014, Public Library of Science.)

But don’t do these things if you want to get these kinds of health benefits…

Don’t do this to your rooibos.

Although bush tea is traditionally served with milk and sugar, you may want to reconsider.

If you want the antioxidant benefits of rooibos, skip the milk. The proteins in milk and creams bond with antioxidants preventing your body from absorbing all those good polyphenols.

Also think about whether adding sugar to our already sugar prone diets is the right call for you. The liquor from this bush is already naturally sweet, and there’s a lot of natural ways to sweeten rooibos like licorice root and agave nectar.

How do I brew it?

Heat fresh water to boiling. Steep 1 teaspoon for an 8 ounce cup of water for 3-5 minutes. You can re-steep for a longer period of time for a second cup. Consider adding licorice root to sweeten.

Where do I find it?

You can find rooibos at these links:

Red rooibos ~ Get organic all-natural red rooibos at this link.

Lola ~ A hand-blended recipe from Sicilian Tea Company that combines all organic ingredients. It’s a sweet treat that’s safe to drink before bedtime because it’s caffeine-free.