Ready for Rooibos Tea

When is a tea not a tea? When it’s rooibos, of course.

Although most other blends of ingredients that are not derived from the tea plant are lumped together under “herbal teas” or “tisanes”, rooibos deserves a category of its own. Unlike tea and coffee, which are grown worldwide, rooibos is grown only in a small portion of South Africa.

Rooting for rooibos

Rooibos is becoming incredibly popular in Western culture, primarily due to the fact that rooibos is a naturally caffeine-free product. Although other herbal teas can claim the same benefit, rooibos produces a very strong brew comparable to black or red tea, and is also highly compatible with additives like milk and sugar. Rooibos is also popular as it is extremely high in antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds, but without the disadvantages of caffeine or high tannin levels as found in most teas. Rooibos also works very well with added spices or other flavorings added during the packaging process, but still manages to hold its own distinctive flavor and characteristic despite the presence of other strong flavors.

Relatively recent rooibos

Although the plant has likely existed for millennia, it wasn’t until the 1900’s that this “wild tea” was studied with interest as a possible crop; the curative properties of this plant were well known to locals, and it also served as an acceptable substitute for black tea which was a rather expensive import in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Rooibos was a notoriously difficult plant to domesticate, and it took several attempts before the unique breeding qualities of this plant were understood before it started to take root, so to speak, as a potential crop.

It’s suspected that some of the health benefits of rooibos outpace even those of green tea; with high levels of antioxidants, and a long history of folk medicinal uses for treating various allergies, gout, and skin problems, rooibos is an excellent choice for those who want a refreshing tea-like beverage without the caffeine.

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