Rooibos tea has long been relished by South Africans as a fruity, smooth flavored summer drink. But recent scientific studies proclaiming this tea’s health benefits has placed it in league with other established health drinks like white tea and green tea may be even a cut above them. Rooibos tea is refreshingly different from the “camellia sinensis” plant tea as it is totally caffeine free. Green tea and white tea, though packed with nutrients, come with at least some caffeine content. But rooibos tea’s totally caffeine free nature makes it a completely safe health tonic recommended even by doctors. It is for this reason that the tea is fast becoming an indispensable ingredient in many herbal tea blends.
It is produced from a bushy plant, “Aspalathus linearis” found in South Africa. The South Africans regard it more as a medicinal herb than tea. The tea or herb has been certified by the US Department of Agriculture as being competent to reduce heart diseases, cancer, and other age related debility. There are two varieties of this tea-the green rooibos and the red rooibos. While the green rooibos is steamed straight after withering without any oxidation, red rooibos is oxidized. It is the red rooibos variety which is considered as the superior between the two.
This tea is also excellent for skin care. It has alpha hydroxyl acid and zinc which help relieve skin conditions like a pimple, acne, rashes etc. The tea can be ground into powder and applied directly on the affected areas for quick healing. A cup of rooibos tea before going to bed is actually a prescribed medication for insomniacs. South Africans have explored the health potential of this beverage like nobody else. They use it to cure allergies like eczema, hay fever, allergic bronchitis etc. Its antispasmodic properties make it helpful to ease stomach cramps and abdominal pains. It is particularly useful to cure colic or stomach pains in infants and small children. As it is totally safe, it is added to sweetened milk and given to small children.
Rooibos tea’s polyphenols make it anti-inflammatory, anti viral and antimutagenic. Its antioxidants help prevent tissue degeneration and maintain long lasting youth. It is a rare source of precious nutrients like Quercetin and Bioflavonoid which block hemorrhage and promote blood circulation. The rich calcium content of the drink helps maintain healthy bones and teeth. It is completely free of oxalic acid and can safely be consumed by patients suffering from kidney stones.
In addition to being a nutrient packed restorative drink, it is also a delicious summer drink. Its iced flavour is a super thirst quencher and does wonders to prevent summer dehydration in sportspersons, travelers, and small children. South Africans normally enjoy this drink straight up without any milk. It is usually served with a slice of lemon. Some honey or sugar may be added to sweeten it according to one’s taste. Due to its rising popularity, red rooibos is now increasingly becoming available at coffee shops and tea houses. It is called red espresso and served in various coffee style variants like red latte and red cappuccino.
Apart from being drunk as a delicious beverage, it also finds a place in various culinary preparations like soups, fruits drinks, sauces etc. It is also a therapeutic ingredient used in hand creams, skin lotions etc.
Red rooibos tea has carved a special niche for itself among the health conscious consumers. The fact that it comes with absolutely no side effects further contribute to its health profile. Its natural fruity-sweet taste makes it enjoyable even for the caffeine-crazy youngsters. It is a unique gift of nature to help keep us in good health.