Rooibos – dried leaf (red and green) & powdered extract
Oxidized Rooibos from South Africa that is picked, dried & oxidized. Red Rooibos is sweeter than the unoxidized green variety.
Red Bush; Bush Tea; Kaffree Tea
Rooibos (pronounced “ROY-boss”) is a South African native, grown and enjoyed for centuries by the people of the mountainous Cedarburg area in the Cape Province. Naturally caffeine-free, brimming with anti-oxidants as well as many nutrients and minerals, this health-giving drink is a staple throughout South Africa. Early Dutch settlers around the Cape, tired of importing the expensive black teas they were accustomed to drinking from Europe, started drinking this “red bush” tea as an alternative and found it to be very refreshing. Commercial trade of the beverage came in the early 1900’s when Russian-born Benjamin Ginsberg was introduced to the beverage by people in the area. Before long the Ginsberg family (long involved in the tea trade) was marketing this “Mountain Tea” to the Europeans and later, worldwide.Widespread cultivation of the shrub began in the 1930’s, followed by scientific research in later decades. The Japanese proclaimed
Rooibos to be an anti-aging aid in the 1980’s and since the millennium, it has become quite readily available in North America since trade tariffs were lifted post-apartheid. This mountain-grown shrub thrives in the wild, but for commercial purposes it is cultivated and grows to a height of 0.5 to 1.5 metres. The leaves are collected, stacked in heaps, laid out in the sun and allowed to ferment (oxidize), giving the tea its rich red color. The leaves are then dried, pasteurized to ensure the highest quality (and safety) standards and then sorted according to size and color for tea bags, loose leaf and for extraction purposes. The green Rooibos, however, is not allowed to oxidize but rather is dried and pasteurized, leaving the leaves and the brew with a lighter, greener taste not unlike some green teas. Since Rooibos is not technically a tea (i.e. the beverage is not made from the camellia sinensis plant) but rather a tisane (an herbal infusion), it is caffeine free. There are consequences associated with long term use of caffeine—all of which are avoided when drinking Rooibos. This means that Rooibos can be enjoyed at any time of day or night and will not prevent one from falling asleep (although it is often used by people with insomnia). Furthermore, as an adaptogen,
Rooibos is quite refreshing in the morning and soothing at night as it helps to modulates the body’s response to stress. Rooibos is highly prized for its antioxidant abilities: it is the only naturally occurring source of the powerful antioxidant aspalathin, and it also contains the antioxidant nothofagin. These anti-oxidants belong to class of polyphenols and flavinoids that reduce oxidative stress (wear and tear) on the body that leads to signs of aging, DNA damage and ultimately, disease. When comparing Rooibos tea extract (powdered) to vitamin E (the gold-standard anti-oxidant), the anti-oxidant activity in Rooibos was found to be more potent due to the presence of rutin and quercitin in the Rooibos, as well as being more stable in the presence of heat. Some analyses have revealed the green Rooibos teas to be higher in anti-oxidants than the red (possibly due to the minimal processing). In studies comparing green and black teas to fermented and unfermented Rooibos, it was found that Rooibos exhibited anti-mutagenic properties as well as some chemo-preventative effects that protect DNA from damage. Other studies confirm Rooibos to be an immune boosting herb with the potential to induce antigen-specific antibody production and beneficial for certain immune conditions such as allergies, cancer, HIV, as well as some skin conditions and infections (TH1 immunity). Rooibos also exhibits anti-HIV activity and may prevent the binding of HIV cells to other healthy cells. In animal studies where mice were infected and then allowed to drink a Rooibos tea ad libitum, it was found that antibody markers were greatly increased via indirect stimulation of B cells and T cells in a dose-dependent manner, as were the number of viable cells in the animal subjects. (ie. The more Rooibos that was consumed, the more of an immune boosting effect there was for the infected mice). Rooibos contains a relatively high amount of vitamin C — again, of benefit for the immune system — as well as being low in tannins. This means that Rooibos, unlike green and black teas, can be consumed by people with low iron and anemia since heme binding is not affected. Adding to this long list of benefits, research – and traditional usage – shows that Rooibos is effective for relieving digestive troubles. Rooibos makes a great “tea” for children’s complaints as well: it is commonly applied topically throughout South Africa to soothe diaper rash, helpful for insomnia, useful in combating illness, upset stomachs and especially considering the wide variety of sweet and fruity flavours.
A delicious cup of Rooibos tea can be prepared by pouring boiling water over 1 tsp of the leaves and allowing to steep for 5-7 minutes. Rooibos will not get bitter if left to steep for longer periods of time, thus it makes a great tea to travel with. Try it as an iced tea as well! Rooibos makes a great addition to soups and creates a rich base. Cosmetically, an infusion of tea can be applied to the skin to cleanse wounds, as an astringent facial wash or to help soothe allergic skin reactions. The powdered extract is a very concentrated Rooibos and makes a great instant drink by adding 1 tsp to 10 oz of hot or cold water (allow 3 tsp of powder per litre of water if making iced tea). The extract can also be blended into smoothies or yogourt, added to juice or in baking to greatly increase the anti-oxidant value.
ROOIBOS TEA MAKES AN EXCELLENT BEVERAGE ALTERNATIVE FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE SENSITIVE TO CAFFEINE AND SUGARS AS IT CONTAINS NO CAFFEINE (NATURALLY) AND DOES NOT ALTER THE GI (GLYCEMIC INDEX) POST-CONSUMPTION. PERSONS ALLERGIC TO ROOIBOS SHOULD NOT CONSUME ROOIBOS. ROOIBOS IS GENERALLY RECOGNIZED AS SAFE FOR CONSUMPTION IN PEOPLE OF ALL AGES AND HAS BEEN CONSUMED FOR CENTURIES WITH LITTLE TO NO REPORTS OF ADVERSE EVENTS.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Canadian Food & Drug Administration.
Research compiled and summarized by Keila McCullough BHSc, ND (cand.) Distinctly Tea Inc.
“A comparative study on the antimutagenic properties of aqueous extracts of Aspalathus linearis (rooibos), different Cyclopia spp. (honeybush) and Camellia sinensis teas”. van der Merwe JD, Joubert E, Richards ES, Manley M, Snijman PW, Marnewick JL, GelderblomWC. Mutat Res. 2006 Dec 10;611(1-2):42-53. [abstract].
“A review of the bioactivity of South African herbal teas: rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia)”. McKay DL, Blumberg JB. Phytother Res. 2007 Jan;21(1):1-16.
“Antioxidant activity and protective effect on DNA strand scission of Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis)”. Lee EJ, Jang HD. Biofactors. 2004;21(1-4):285-92.[abstract].
“Anti-oxidative effects of rooibos tea extract on autoxidation and thermal oxidation of lipids”. Fukasawa R, Kanda A, Hara S. J Oleo Sci. 2009;58(6):275-83. Effects of rooibos tea extract on antigen-specific antibody production and cytokine generation in vitro and in vivo”. Kunishiro K, Tai A, Yamamoto I. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2001 Oct;65(10):2137-45.
“Red Bush Tea”. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com
“Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis)” Professional Monograph. Natural Standard. http://www.naturalstandard.com South African Rooibos Council. http://sarooibos.co.za/
“Sugary drinks and glycemia”. Guerreiro S, Alçada M, Azevedo I. Acta Med Port. 2010 Jul-Aug;23(4):567-78. [abstract].
“The in vitro effects of Rooibos and Black tea on immune pathways”. Hendricks R, Pool EJ. J Immunoassay Immunochem. 2010 Apr;31(2):169-80.
“The effect of rooibos tea on iron absorption.” S Afr Med J. 1979 Apr 14;55(16):631-2. Hesseling PB, Klopper JF, van Heerden PD.
Research compiled and summarized by Keila McCullough BHSc, ND (cand.)