Let's start by stating Rooibos correctly.
Let us begin with the correct way to say "Rooibos tea." The tea is pronounced "roy-boss." Sometimes it is spelled "rooibosch," which is the Dutch version.
It is still pronounced the same and can be sometimes referred to as "red bush tea."
The History of Rooibos Tea
Rooibos tea has flown under the radar, but is actually interesting and full of surprises.
Because rooibos tea is healthy and decaffeinated, it is making a real name for itself and should have a long future in the global tea market.
Rooibos tea's history is rooted in the Cederberg region of scenic South Africa.
Khoisans, the indigenous Bushmen of the region, harvested the leaves from the Aspalathus Linearis plant for centuries. The leaves were used as herbal remedies for many ailments, and coveted for their delicious taste.
Rooibos tea history nearly ended with the dwindling of the Khoisan tribes, but thankfully a botanist named Carl Humberg rediscovered the leaves in 1772 and revived a more widespread interest in the tea drink.
Then, in 1904 a Russian immigrant with ties to tea manufacturing, Benjamin Ginsberg, began marketing the drink as a "Mountain Tea," an herbal alternative to tea.
Even more notably Dr. Nortier is known as the father of the rooibos tea industry. Thanks to his research, rooibos tea, originally just an indigenous drink, became an iconic national beverage and then a globalized commodity.
Dr Nortier cultivated the first plants on his farms. The tiny seeds were very difficult to find. Dr Nortier paid the local villagers for seeds collected.
An older woman in the region found an unusual seed source by stumbling upon ants dragging seed. She followed them back to their nest and breaking it open she unearthed a granary.
Dr. Nortier's research was ultimately successful and he subsequently showed all the local farmers how to germinate their own seeds.
During World War II, when importing tea from Asian countries was nearly impossible, rooibos tea became an excellent alternative and was shipped around the world.
Rooibos retailers were having problems though due to the high price of rooibos seeds, which rose due to the plant's scarcity.
Because of the high price, rooibos tea was still relatively difficult to purchase.It wasn't until the late 1960s that rooibos tea history took a significant turn.
In 1968, Annique Theron, a woman from South Africa published a book on rooibos tea's amazing health benefits.
After the book was released hundreds of studies found uncovered rooibos tea's antioxidants and other health benefits. The rooibos tea industry was born.
How is rooibos tea harvested?
The bushy rooibos plant is harvested by cutting by hand its stems and leaves that are bound into bundles.
The bundles are sorted and then cut or bruised to encourage oxidation.
Oxidation is the exposure to oxygen and what brings out the plant’s essential oils and helps the leaves develop their rich color and flavor.
The more oxidized the rooibos, the redder in color and sweeter and richer in flavor it becomes.
A less oxidized rooibos is steamed and dried immediately instead of oxidized, so it remains slightly green in color and retains a grassy, mineral-like flavor.
This less oxidized version is called green rooibos.
Rooibos is also graded like tea from the Camellia sinensis plant, where the grade depends on the leaf to stem content ratio.
Higher grades of rooibos contain more flavorful leaves and less stem and dust.
Is rooibos tea decaffeinated or caffeine free?
Rooibos or red tea is a naturally caffeine-free herb from South Africa.
Rooibos has a bold taste being similar to black tea, making it a popular caffeine-free alternative to regular black tea.
Therefore, rooibos is not "decaffeinated" as that refers to items that had caffeine, and then went through a process to have most of the caffeine removed.
Since rooibos is naturally caffeine free, it cannot be decaffeinated.
What are the health benefits in drinking rooibos tea?
Rich in antioxidants
Rooibos tea is extraordinarily rich in a diverse array of antioxidants, These amazing substances protect our bodies from the cell-damaging effects of free radicals guarding us from a host of serious degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration, Parkinson's disease and various types of cancer.
Rooibos tea contains numerous vital minerals such as magnesium (essential for the nervous system), calcium and manganese (good for the bones and teeth), zinc (needed for a healthy metabolism) and iron (needed to help blood and muscles distribute oxygen to the body's cells).
As with all natural foods and drinks, rooibos tea's nutritional composition is fashioned by nature to optimize absorption of all available nutrients.
Rooibos leaves contain a lot of calcium - but they also contain a lot of magnesium to help us absorb that calcium.
Also, rooibos's copper content helps us absorb its iron reserves. These superior absorption rates lead to greater rejuvenation.
Improves blood circulation
Rooibos tea contains a flavonoid called chrysoeriol that aids blood circulation by inhibiting enzymes that contribute to cardiovascular disease.
Regular consumption of rooibos tea has also been linked to reduced blood pressure and reduced total cholesterol.
Settles the stomach
Like several other herbal teas, such as ginger tea, rooibos tea has a noticeably calming effect on the digestive system.
Researchers have attributed this effect to the tea's quercetin content, a potent anti-inflammatory that can reduce abdominal spasms and ease indigestion.
With all of these combined benefits of taste and health, how could anyone pass up a cup of rooibos tea?