Rooibos: The Red Tea

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Rooibos Red TeaRooibos, (pronounced “roy-bos”), Aspalathus linearis, grows only in a small area of Southern Africa in the region of the Western Cape province. The name Rooibos is derived from “red bush”. Technically Rooibos is not a “true” tea because it does not come from the Camellia plants that produce traditional teas although it has long been used as a tea. Once theĀ  needle-like leaves are cut and oxidized/fermented they turn a red color.

Rooibos tea has a sweet, mild, nutty flavor. Rooibos has increased in popularity not only because of its wonderful color and taste; but because of all the great health benefits it provides.

Rooibos has no caffeine and is low in tannin, so it can be enjoyed without any unpleasant side effects.

Many studies have been conducted on Rooibos and the following are some of the health benefits that have been discovered:

  • Eases irritability, headaches, nervous tension and insomnia.
  • Acts as an anti-spasmodic agent, to relieve stomach cramps and colic in infants
  • Can be used to treat hay fever, asthma and eczema
  • Placed directly on the skin, it can slow the aging process
  • Boosts the immune system

Modern medical institutes and, most notably Japan have taken quick notice of the medical benefits of consuming this beverage and have amassed findings on Rooibos including anti-viral, anti-spasmodic and anti-allergic properties. They have also found that Rooibos is over 50 times more active in anti-oxidant properties then green tea!

Rooibos is also high in many minerals:

  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Fluoride
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Alpha-hydroxy (great for the skin)
  • Magnesium

Rooibos tea is available “green” which is unfermented. This tea is considerably higher in anti-oxidants, trace minerals, and nutrients, when compared to the traditional red Rooibos. It brews up a golden color, is not as sweet and has a more herbal flavor.

Some tea suppliers offer a vanilla-flavored Rooibos which is nice. Other herbs can also be mixed with Rooibos such as mint. It also makes a caffeine-free base for chai tea.

Rooibos Chai Tea

2 cups water
2 cardamom pods or about 1/8 teaspoon seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
2 black peppercorns
2 teaspoons loose, Rooibos tea
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup milk or soy milk
1 tablespoon peeled and sliced fresh ginger

Crush the spices with a mortar and pestle or other method. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a stainless steel or nonstick saucepan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the tea and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the milk and honey. When back to a simmer, add the ginger. After one minute strain the tea into cups.

A great supplier of organic, fair trade Rooibos tea is Mountain Rose Herbs.

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