What is Rooibos Tea?
Rooibos Tea, pronounced ROY-boss, is a native South African shrub grown in the Western and Eastern Cape provinces. Rooibos means “Red Bush” and its leaves are used to make the beautiful herbal tea that has been a popular staple of South Africa for decades. Over the past 20 years, the rest of the world has slowly caught on to this amazing tea. Think of it as a black tea without the tannins and caffeine.
It was only about 3 centuries ago that the Khoisan Tribe of South Africa started harvesting the soft needle-like leaves of this red bush plant. They would chop down the branches, bruise the leaves and leave them out in the sun to dry. They would use these leaves to make tea as an herbal remedy. And, of course, it tastes great.
Sometime in the late 1700s, a European botanist by the name of Carl Thundburg discovered, or I should say rediscovered, the plant by observing the indigenous tribes who journeyed into the mountainous region to cultivate the leaves. He gave the plant its technical designation. Carl Thunberg is the one who pretty much made the plant known to the world.
In 1904 it was Benjamin Ginsberg who mimicked the Chinese method of fermenting the tea leaves in barrels, thereby, producing what we know today as Rooibos. There were many challenges in making the Rooibos commercially viable including farmer’s ability to get the seeds to germinate. The popularity of the tea grew so much so that by the late 1920s a solution was needed to meet the growing demand.
It was Dr. Pieter Lefras Nortier who through experimentation discover a way of getting the seeds to germinate. This was done by grinding away some of the seedpod wall before planting. He shared his knowledge with local farmers which led to a steady growth of Rooibos production over time. It is Dr. Nortier who is known as the father of the Rooibos tea industry due to his work in solving the problem of getting the seeds to germinate.
Today the majority of the Rooibos leaves come from Cedarburg, northwest of Cape Town.
The Unique Nature of Rooibos
Rooibos is an herbal tea because it doesn’t come from the camellia Sinensis plant. Therefore, it comes with its unique properties. The Rooibos infusion is sweet, nutty, woodsy, mellow. It is like a black tea, but much less bitter and no caffeine.
It also has amazing health benefits. Rooibos is full of flavonols which help maintain a good cardiovascular system. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which help contribute to overall health. With its high polyphenol content, it can help fight against type 2 diabetes and even cancer. Of course, there are always more studies that can be done and this means that Rooibos would need to be part of a consistent diet.
The other amazing thing about Rooibos, like other teas, is its ability to play well with others. When blended with other ingredients like chocolate, caramel, vanilla, spices, berries, citrus, and other fruits you get an amazing assortment of blends to play with. At Fusion Teas, we have a plethora of amazing infusions to choose from. Check out some of these options below.
This bright pink and perky infusion is sweet, tart, and creamy. With a combination of that orange citrus that hits ya just right with that sweetness, the cranberries that give that perfect bite, and a hint of hibiscus that contributes to the best tartness of flavor. It’s a perfect balance of flavor-packed vitamins and minerals.
If you’re looking for a mini-vacation in the tropics, then sit back and sip on this Pina Colada concoction of coconut, mango, pineapple, papaya, banana, and more. It is super smooth and velvety and a perfect pick for a Rooibos dessert treat without all the crazy calories.
This light and tropical infusion is a balanced blend of green grass woodsy like a smooth green tea and tropical fruity flavors of mango, papaya, and a citrus spritz of orange peel. The cool thing is green tea won’t turn bitter no matter how long you brew it. So, steep it and forget it, though we doubt you will because the aroma will beckon you back.
For more Rooibos options, check out our Rooibos page.