If you tend to avoid drinking things you can’t pronounce, this article is for you!
Rooibos (pronounced “roy-boss”) is a phenomenal herbal tea with a rich, slightly sweet, and earthy flavor that we think everyone should know more about.
Offering a mix of polyphenols (also known as antioxidants) that are not found in other teas, rooibos boasts some pretty impressive health benefits:
- Supports a healthy heart
- Supports the battle against free radicals
- Supports healthy blood sugar
- Supports digestion
- Supports natural allergy relief
- Supports healthy skin and hair
What the heck is rooibos?
Rooibos literally means “red bush” in the Afrikaans language. And as an indication of just how special it is, the plant literally only grows in one particular location in South Africa! There’s a reason why this “red bush tea” is considered to be an iconic beverage in South Africa. Although it is technically an herb rather than a true “tea,” the leaves have been used to brew tea for centuries.
Why did people start making this herb into tea? Maybe because it can have up to 50% more antioxidants than green tea! Amazing, right? And because rooibos tea is caffeine-free and low in tannins (especially when compared to other teas), it’s even safe for infants to drink!
On top of all those antioxidants, rooibos is also super-rich in minerals. Here’s a list of what you’re getting in your cup of rooibos tea: zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. It’s like a vitamin – except yummier!
What does rooibos taste like?
In addition to the traditional red rooibos tea, there are also green rooibos tea varieties and even chai blends made with rooibos! Depending on the blend, rooibos has been described as woody, sweet, vanilla, smoky, grassy, caramel.
It’s a beautiful reddish-brown color in your cup. Many people find it delicious as a straight tea, or the traditional South African way to drink it, which is with a splash of milk and a little honey. If you decide to try a rooibos latte, we highly recommend using an unsweetened plant or nut milk, as these flavors complement your rooibos tea a bit better than dairy.
Rooibos also makes a divinely refreshing iced tea! And even if you normally take a little sweetener in your tea, we recommend trying red rooibos tea “straight up” – as it is naturally sweet.
In fact, because rooibos is naturally sweet (as opposed to bitter, like most other teas), it has recently enjoyed the attention of creative all-star chefs who are adding rooibos as a flavor-enhancing ingredient to everything from meat dishes to chocolate cakes! As if this weren’t enough, scientists are also currently studying the potential of rooibos to be an excellent natural food preservative.
Intrigued? Let’s find out what this cool “red tea” and its powerful antioxidants can do for you!
Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea
Here’s the part where we try to help you figure out whether you should add rooibos to your diet. Honestly? Rooibos offers such an incredibly unique blend of antioxidants that we would recommend it for anyone.
Specifically, it contains at least two health-enhancing compounds (aspalathin and alpha hydroxy acid) that do not exist in any other natural source that you can ingest. It’s also the only tea that provides quercetin, which has a ton of healthy benefits we share below.
Considering rooibos tea is caffeine-free, calorie-free, AND has these unique properties, we think everyone could benefit from adding it to their diet. Read on and decide for yourself:
1. Support a Healthy Heart
Drinking rooibos tea can help to support your heart health in a few different ways. For starters, the antioxidants it provides have been linked to supported cardiovascular health. (1) Another study demonstrated rooibos’ ability to support healthy blood pressure levels. (2)
Rooibos also showed the potential to support healthy cholesterol levels in overweight adults who drank six cups of rooibos tea daily for six weeks. (3) Pretty impressive!
2. Support the Battle Against Free Radicals
Rooibos tea contains three primary antioxidants: aspalathin (aspalathus linearis), luteolin, and quercetin. (4)(5) These powerful antioxidants are particularly regarded for their ability to help your body fight against free radical damage to your cells. That means they can support healthy aging, support a healthy immune system, as well as your body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. (6) Almost sounds like a plant superhero, right?
As a general rule, inflammation can be your body’s enemy. Anything you can eat or drink that helps to fight inflammation means you are supporting overall radiant health.
3. Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Drinking rooibos tea has promising results for anyone looking for help to keep their blood sugar levels healthy. The antioxidant aspalathin is known to help balance blood sugar and help with insulin resistance. (9) Rooibos happens to be one of the few known natural sources of aspalathin.
4. Support Digestion
Just about every variety of tea can enhance your digestion. Rooibos, however, is particularly good for alleviating any kind of abdominal pain or indigestion.
This is due to certain compounds in rooibos that have demonstrated an anti-spasmodic effect on the digestive system. (11) So any kind or churning or cramping of the stomach or intestines can potentially be alleviated by drinking rooibos tea.
5. Supports Natural Allergy Relief
The antioxidant quercetin is really the all-star of rooibos. Quercetin has a demonstrated ability to block the immune cells that are responsible for triggering allergic reactions in your body. In fact, quercetin has demonstrated the potential to be effective at treating allergies – but without any negative side effects sometimes associated with medications. (12) That could spell some serious relief for allergy sufferers!
(You should always check with your doctor before stopping or changing any prescribed medications!)
6. Support Healthy Skin and Hair
Yet another rare compound found in rooibos is alpha hydroxy acid. AHA is prized for its ability to keep skin and hair healthy, but it is nearly impossible to find in a natural source. And other sources of alpha hydroxy acid (think chemical peels) can be terribly harsh on your body. Drinking rooibos tea just might lead to stronger hair follicles and healthier skin texture. (13)
We hope this has removed some of the mystery surrounding rooibos. With all these impressive and unique health benefits, it’s no surprise experts predict that rooibos will soon be as popular in the United States as green and black teas. Give it a try and let us know what you think!