Rooibos tea has had a surge in popularity recently and everyone in the health and wellness world has indulged in this delicious and healthy beverage. Derived from the continent of Africa, rooibos and its benefits are now enjoyed all over the world.
One might think the caffeinated black and green tea is beneficial for you, but rooibos tea is one to take the cake. From aiding in digestion to preventing cancer, the advantages of using this herb go far beyond drinking it for enjoyment.
Botanical Name and Family of Rooibos
Rooibos is botanically known as Aspalathus linearis. It belongs to the Fabaceae or legumes family and has been referred to as Red tea and Red Bush tea.
What Is Rooibos?
Rooibos is a plant of the legume family that is native to the Cedarberg area of South Africa. The leaves of this plant are fermented and attain a reddish-brown color that helps to enhance the flavor.
These leaves are then used to prepare a tea that is considered healthier than black or green tea. Green rooibos tea can be made and it contains more antioxidants, but it is not fermented. It also tends to be more expensive and has more of an earthy grass flavor than the traditional rooibos tea.
For centuries rooibos tea has been used in South Africa, as well as many other countries around the world because of its medicinal properties attributed to the Aspalathus linearis bush plant.
While references to rooibos tea can be found in history as early as 1772, this decadent tea has only been commercially traded since 1904. Reason being is it took many years to determine a way to germinate the plant for mass production.
Active Ingredients Found in Rooibos Tea
Rooibos contains ascorbic acid, benzoic acid, cinnamic acid and flavonoids such as nothofagin and aspalathin. It does not contain caffeine and has a very low concentration of tannins.
Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea
Traditionally, this herb has been used to deal with colic in infants. Rooibos tea is considered to be a cancer-preventive agent. It is also said to improve mental clarity with age. Studies have found this herb to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties and also promising action against HIV infection. It is also said to be capable of preventing DNA damage.
Along with the previously mentioned benefits, rooibos tea has also been proven beneficial for the following ailments:
- Joint health
- Bone health
- Aids in digestion
- Improves blood circulation
- Aids in weight loss
- Treats allergies
- Controls diabetes
- Improves skin complexion
Different Ways to Use Rooibos
The leaves and twigs of the herb are used to prepare a tea that can be enjoyed hot or cold. To brewing the tea, put 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of the tea leaves into an infuser and add it to a cup of hot water, then let it steep for 5 to 15 minutes.
For cold rooibos tea, double the amount of tea and allow it to steep for at least 10 minutes.
Side Effects or Rooibos
This herb is considered safe for use and there are no reported side effects. As a word of caution, since rooibos tea is very strong, it is a possibility that it can interfere with treatments to certain conditions like chemotherapy for cancer patients.
While it offers a variety of health benefits, rooibos tea should only be used as a preventive measure for the mentioned conditions, not as a cure. Make sure to have a conversation with your doctor before adding rooibos to your diet to see if it’ll be the right choice for you.
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Baba H, Ohtsuka Y, Haruna H, Lee T, Nagata S, Maeda M, Yamashiro Y, Shimizu T. Studies of anti-inflammatory effects of Rooibos tea in rats. Pediatr Int. 2009 Oct;51(5):700-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-200X.2009.02835.x. Epub 2009 Mar 27. PubMed PMID: 19419525.