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Trying kinds of herbal tea has become one of my hobbies recently.
If I could recommend one, then it would be rooibos tea.

Having a cup of rooibos tea to accompany me while working or doing the housework will make the activity more enjoyable. Its mild taste without bitterness makes rooibos tea delicious to drink for many occasions throughout the year.

Furthermore, rooibos tea is said to be a healthy herbal tea.
Is it true that rooibos tea is good for us?


What is Rooibos Tea?

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Rooibos tea, also known as red bush tea, is herb tea made from the shrub called Aspalathus linearis native from South Africa.

It is unique because the rooibos tea bush can only be cultivated in the mountainous area of Cederberg, Western Cape province of South Africa.

Rooibos tea is a caffeine-free tea that has needle-like leaves characteristics, high in antioxidants, and low in tannins.

Unlike the decaffeinated tea that has some of its antioxidant compounds stripped away by the chemical process, rooibos tea is naturally caffeine-free tea which completely contains a lot of antioxidant compounds.

This tea is traditionally used for medicinal purposes, and drink mainly as healthy tea because of its potential benefits.

The Herbal Tea Loved by Many Tea Lovers Worldwide

Rooibos has been loved and consumed by locals since ancient times.

Its existence as a healthy herbal tea is acknowledged by locals and eventually reaches the attention of the global tea market as well.

According to The SA Rooibos Council, the yearly production of Rooibos in South Africa reaches 14,000 tons on average.

Some of the volumes are consumed locally, and some also being exported to more than 300 countries. Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America are the biggest importers of Rooibos.

The increasing popularity of rooibos tea that can only be grown in South Africa is making it now available worldwide.

Source:
The South African Rooibos Council Official Website

Kinds of Rooibos Tea

The rooibos tea we usually heard of is the red colored rooibos tea.
Do you know that there are 2 kinds of rooibos tea?

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Left: green rooibos tea; Right: red rooibos tea

The green rooibos tea or the unfermented rooibos tea is the less oxidized rooibos tea made by quick drying the shredded rooibos leaves to maintain its green color.

Meanwhile, the red rooibos tea (fermented) is made by fermenting the shredded rooibos leaves in a few hours before being sun-dried and packed. The red color in this tea came from the fermentation process.

The fermentation process involves piling up grated leaves on heaps while watering and brushing it at the temperature around 38 to 42 degrees Celsius.

Rooibos tea’s taste, aroma, and composition will vary according to its processing method, cultivation area, and the age of the bush.

Difference between Green Rooibos Tea and Red Rooibos Tea


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● Green (Unfermented) Rooibos Tea
・50% higher antioxidant activity than the red rooibos tea.
・Green rooibos tea infusion has a lighter tan/yellow color.
・It has a refreshing scent with grassier taste.
・More expensive because rooibos is very easy to get fermented.

Rooibos is a plant that is easy to get fermented.

It takes more time and effort to process the unfermented rooibos tea. Thus making the unfermented rooibos tea more expensive.


● Red (Unfermented) Rooibos Tea
・Has richer taste and scent than the green rooibos tea.
・Red rooibos tea infusion has a vibrant amber to crimson color.
・There is a slight sweetness.
・Affordable price and easier to find.

Red rooibos tea said to have fewer antioxidants than green rooibos tea, but still delicious and healthy nevertheless.


What does Rooibos Tea Taste Like?


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Unlike black and green tea that is processed from Camellia sinensis plant, rooibos tea derived from a broom-like bush called Aspalathus linearis.

The red rooibos tea has a mild, earthy, and aromatic taste with a natural sweetness. The tea has a honeyed note with a little bit of vanilla fragrance. While the green rooibos tea has grassier and milder taste with a refreshing scent.


The good thing about rooibos tea is it is low in tannins, so it will never go bitter even if you steep it in a long time.
This applies both for red rooibos tea and green rooibos tea.

There are no such things such as bitterness or astringency in rooibos tea.

For those who want to enjoy tea with natural sweetness without any bitterness, rooibos tea might be your solution!

Rooibos Tea Health Benefits

Rooibos tea is considered a “healthy beverage” with relatively no side effects.

Traditional medicinal uses of rooibos tea in South Africa included alleviation of infantile colic, allergies, asthma, and dermatological problems. Now, let’s review the possible rooibos tea benefits!

Benefit 1 Antioxidant Effects to Reduce the Risk of Oxidative Stress-Related Diseases

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The human body's metabolism process constantly generates free radicals and other reactive oxygen species (ROS). An unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking habits, less exercise, and eating unhealthy foods also could increase the production of free radicals and ROS. The excessive production of these dangerous species eventually can lead to oxidative stress-related diseases.

Many chronic diseases came from the oxidative stress. Some of the examples are neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease), cancers, and cardiovascular diseases.

The antioxidant effects of herbal tea, such as rooibos tea, said to have an efficient protective effect against oxidative stress-related disease (in a study case using rats).

The abundant portion of polyphenolic compounds in rooibos tea removes free radicals and protects the body cells from aging.

Source:
Anti-Oxidative Effects of Rooibos Tea (Aspalathus linearis) on Immobilization-Induced Oxidative Stress in Rat Brain

 

Benefit 2 Prevent Blood Vessel Problems and Lowering Blood Pressure

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Rooibos has rutin, or the so called as Vitamin P, a flavonoid that has antioxidant activity. Rutin is a component that supports Vitamin C and strengthens the function of capillaries.

This flavonoid has an important role around blood vessels by smoothening blood flow and lowering blood pressure.

A study reported that the abundant polyphenols and flavonoids in rooibos tea infusion have a blood pressure-lowering effect in experimental animals, including rabbit and guinea pig.

Source:
Selective Bronchodilatory Effect of Rooibos Tea (Aspalathus Linearis) and Its Flavonoid, Chrysoeriol

 

Benefit 3 Increasing Metabolism and Promote Blood Flow

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Not only contain polyphenols, but rooibos tea also reported to have mineral and fluoride contents. One cup of rooibos tea said to contain 2.8 mg iron, 18 mg calcium, 28 mg magnesium, 10 mg phosphate, and 47 mg potassium.

Iron and magnesium are the components essential for our body metabolism and energy production.

It also promotes blood flow and is said to be effective in curing cold sensitivity/intolerance.

Source:
Rooibos Tea, Aspalathus linearis, a Caffeineless, Low-Tannin Beverage

 

Benefit 4 Eliminate Swelling and Constipation. Could it have a Diet Effect?

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Adding rooibos tea into your diet might help you to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight because it is calorie-free.

Rooibos tea has an intestinal regulating effect and also has the effect of eliminating constipation.

The mild diuretic effect in rooibos tea also lessens swelling, which will make you feel more refreshed.

Moreover, due to its low tannin content, rooibos tea presents little or no interference with the digestibility of protein. It also does not inhibit iron absorption in our body, unlike conventional teas that have more tannins.

Source:
Rooibos Tea, Aspalathus linearis, a Caffeineless, Low-Tannin Beverage

 

Benefit 5 The Relaxing Effect that Enhances Good Sleep

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It said that raising the body temperature before going to bed makes it easier for you to get a deep and good quality sleep. Rooibos tea warms your body, which makes it perfect for a good night's sleep tea.

Rooibos tea is also a caffeine-free tea that has a calming effect. Drinking rooibos tea could reduce nervous tension and lead to a good quality sleep.

As a guideline, you should drink it for about 1 hour before you go to bed. Because rooibos tea also has a diuretic effect, please drink it in a moderate amount.

 

Benefit 6 Relief for Allergy and Atopy

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Rooibos tea is said to be effective against allergies such as hay fever, asthma, atopic dermatitis, and some other dermatological problems.

Study proved that rooibos tea could reduce histamine which causes allergic symptoms, and it is highly effective in suppressing itching sensation in atopic dermatitis.

Source:
South African herbal teas: Aspalathus linearis, Cyclopia spp. and Athrixia phylicoides—A review

 

Benefit 7 Neutralize Hangover

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The rooibos tea contains plenty of minerals, so this tea seems to work on liver function and neutralize hangover well.

Since it is necessary to use water in the body to decompose alcohol, this tea is said that it is also good in terms of hydration.

 

Even though the evidence of rooibos tea’s health benefits on humans is still limited, this herbal tea has an excellent medical use record and considered harmless for the human body.

There is also no report about toxicity on rooibos tea, thus making this tea healthy and safe to drink for everyone.

Rooibos Tea Side Effects

Currently, there are no reports of significant side effects or toxicity with rooibos tea.
But let’s note some of these points when consuming rooibos tea.

Possible Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Rooibos Tea?


Even if there is no side effect of rooibos tea, please don’t drink it too much.
Here is the summary of the precautions you need to know in case you drink too much of rooibos tea.

1. Mild diuretic effect from rooibos tea
A mild diuretic effect was observed for the higher dosages of rooibos tea consumption. The diuretic effect includes increased urination and reduced the sodium in the body. For this reason, please avoid drinking it too much before going to sleep or going out.

2. Pay attention to the magnesium content in rooibos tea
Excessive intake of magnesium might make you hungry, or the worse situation might cause nausea, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. The human body is often lack of magnesium, but a high dose of magnesium is also not good. Please pay attention to the magnesium content in rooibos tea.

3. Possible hepatotoxic of rooibos tea
There was one complex case report stated that excessive rooibos tea consumption could lead to a liver problem.
Normally, the rooibos tea didn’t contain any elements that could cause a hepatotoxic effect. So several reasons besides rooibos tea may be the cause of liver-related diseases in the case.

Source:
South African herbal teas: Aspalathus linearis, Cyclopia spp. and Athrixia phylicoides—A review

Source:
Possible hepatotoxic effect of rooibos tea: a case report

Is it safe to drink for pregnant women and children?


Rooibos tea is caffeine-free and low in tannins. These two reasons make rooibos is generally safe for everyone, including pregnant women, children, caffeine-sensitive people, and elderly.

However, recent study suggested that woman in their pregnancy should not consume more than 3 cups of tea per day. The antifolate properties in tea associated to cause birth defects such as Spinal Bifida when the tea is consumed in excessive intake.

The polyphenol contents in herbal tea also could increase the risk of birth defects if consumed by pregnant women in her third semester. Due to these risks, please keep in mind that the most ideal is to drink rooibos tea in an adequate amount per day.

Source:
Maternal Tea Consumption during Early Pregnancy and the Risk of Spina Bifida

Source:
Polyphenol-rich food general and on pregnancy effects: a review

How to Make Rooibos Tea?

There are two methods to make rooibos: boiling and steeping.

You can use any methods you want. But, please be aware that there are products that “only for boiling” or “only for steeping”. So please check at the product package before preparing the rooibos tea.

In case you are using the Kawashima The Japanstore's original rooibos tea, you can make the rooibos tea with steeping the tea bag with room temperature water for few hours, or simply put the tea bag directly in a teacup and pour some hot water into it.

Our instruction below will give a general, brief method to boil and steep rooibos tea.

How to Boil Rooibos Tea


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・1L Water
・5g Rooibos tea leaves (2 and a half teaspoons)
Put rooibos tea leaves in boiling water and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes (longer simmering time will result in a darker color and deeper flavor to the tea).

When finished, remove and strain the tea leaves.

Please only use the loose tea leaves to boil the rooibos tea.

How to Steep Rooibos Tea


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・1L Water
・10g Rooibos tea leaf (5 teaspoons)
Put tea leaves and water in a clean container and steep in the refrigerator for about 10 hours.

You can use loose tea leaves or tea bag to steep the rooibos tea.

How to Steep using Rooibos Tea Bag


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・1 teacup, filled with hot water
・1 Kawashimaya’s original rooibos teabag (1.8 g rooibos tea leaves)
Wait at least 2 minutes or at your desired tea thickness. You can enjoy it with the teabag or without the teabag.

Complete Guide to Enjoy Rooibos Tea

Personally, I drink rooibos tea about twice a week as drink rotation beside coffee and other teas. Is it okay to drink rooibos tea every day? Or are there things to point out when drinking rooibos tea?

After knowing how to properly make rooibos tea, let’s learn some tips to completely enjoy rooibos tea.

How much should we drink rooibos tea a day?

Consuming 1 cup of rooibos tea per day is already good, but healthy adults said to able to drink up to 6 cups per day. Of course, pregnant women and children might want to limit their consumption at only 1 to 2 cups per day because of the risks we mentioned earlier.

Let's drink rooibos tea in an adequate amount to get its fullest benefits!


How to choose high-quality rooibos tea?

For those who drink rooibos tea frequently, choosing high-quality rooibos tea leaves is very important.

We recommend choosing the organic or pesticide-free products to get the most nutrients of the rooibos tea at once.


Which one do you prefer: Hot or Iced Rooibos Tea?


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Rooibos tea can be enjoyed both as a hot or iced tea. And it is absolutely refreshing to drink the iced rooibos tea in summer.

But some people might be intolerant to iced tea, so we recommend to drink it hot as a basic rule.


Can I add milk, sugar, or honey in my rooibos tea?

Some people might enjoy their rooibos tea with milk, sugar, or honey.
Many also add a slice of lemon to add a fruity taste to the tea.

I also tried to add milk and some sugar, and I think the rooibos tea latte could be a popular beverage for children.

But unlike some other herb teas, rooibos tea already has a natural sweetness, without bitterness, and honeyed note in its taste. So rooibos tea is delicious to enjoy as it is.


How to store rooibos tea?

Rooibos tea is easy to oxidize even though rooibos tea tends to have a longer storage time than other types of teas.

Please store the rooibos tea leaves in a closed container in cool room temperature, away from direct light, heat, and moisture like at the pantry. The rooibos tea could maintain its freshness if stored like the way you store other teas or coffee.

The rooibos tea that has been steeped could last for 5 days in the refrigerator. Please drink it immediately after making it.

Rooibos Tea Q & A

Is rooibos tea herbal tea? What is it taste like?
Yes, rooibos tea is herbal tea.
The red rooibos tea has a mild, earthy taste with natural sweetness. The tea has a honeyed note with a little bit of vanilla fragrance. While the green rooibos tea has grassier and milder taste with a refreshing scent.
What are the possible health benefits of rooibos tea?
Several healthy benefits of rooibos tea are:
1. Antioxidant Effects to Reduce the Risk of Oxidative Stress-Related Diseases
2. Prevent Blood Vessel Problems and Lowering Blood Pressure
3. Increasing Metabolism and Promote Blood Flow
4. Eliminate Swelling and Constipation. Could it have a Diet Effect?
5. The Relaxing Effect that Enhances Good Sleep
6. Relief for Allergy and Atopy
7. Neutralize Hangover

Read more detailed information here.
Any recommendation of rooibos tea product? Please tell me how to choose the good rooibos tea.
We don’t recommend any specific product, but if you want to drink rooibos tea every day, we recommend to get the organic or pesticide-free products.

The non-organic product may have heavy metals that could harm our body if consumed regularly.

As for the rooibos tea taste, every product has slightly different tastes according to its processing method, cultivation area, and the age of the bush. So please try some rooibos tea and choose your favorite one.
How to make/steep rooibos tea? Is there are tips for preparing rooibos tea?
We included brief method to boil and steep rooibos tea here.

Tips for preparing: check the available brewing method in your rooibos tea product package in advance. There are leaves that “only for boiling” or “only for steeping”. Please keep that in mind.
Is it safe to drink rooibos tea every day?
Healthy adults said to able to drink up to 6 cups per day. However, if you are pregnant or have a children nearby, it is best to limit the rooibos tea consumption at only 1 to 2 cups per day.
How to store rooibos tea?
Please store the rooibos tea leaves in a closed container in cool room temperature, away from direct light, heat, and moisture like at the pantry.

The rooibos tea that has been steeped could last for 5 days in the refrigerator. Please drink it immediately after making it.

Recommended Rooibos Tea Product