9 Surprising Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea
By The Whistling Kettle December 29th, 2021
Rooibos tea is almost too good to be true. It has powerful antioxidants and health benefits like true tea, but is completely caffeine-free so you can drink it any time of day. The flavor profile is sweet, nutty, and smooth, and tastes similar to black tea. Whether you need a bedtime tea without caffeine or want a tea that is naturally sweet without any bitterness, there are many reasons to choose Rooibos tea. The health benefits of rooibos are impressive, from balancing cholesterol and blood sugar to helping strengthen your bones. To help you decide if rooibos is the right choice for you, we’ve compiled a complete overview to make you an instant expert in the health benefits of rooibos tea.
What is Rooibos Tea?
Rooibos (pronounced Roy-bos) is made from the Aspalathus linearis plant, which is part of the legume family. It is a small shrub with needle-like leaves that can only grow in Cederburg, a mountainous region of South Africa. The name ‘rooibos’ translates to ‘red bush’ in Afrikaans, referring to the bold red color of the tea infusion. It is completely different from the Camellia sinensis plant that makes green tea, black tea, and all true teas, although rooibos is processed in a similar way. The rooibos tea leaves are either dried and unoxidized to make green rooibos, or fully oxidized to make red rooibos. Green rooibos is mild in flavor and has the most antioxidants. Red rooibos is the more common variety that has a deeper flavor and dark amber infusion.
What Does Rooibos Tea Taste Like?
Rooibos tea is naturally sweet, and has no bitterness. The flavor profile is slightly nutty and toasty with notes of honey and caramel. Red rooibos brews a rich infusion that makes a great caffeine-free alternative to black tea. It pairs exceptionally well with warming spices like ginger and cinnamon, or with aromatic citrus like lemon peel and orange. You can easily find all types of rooibos tea blends with other herbs and spices to suit any taste. And if you prefer a lighter brew, green rooibos will have a more delicate flavor profile. Whatever variety of rooibos you choose, you are sure to enjoy the smooth, sweet taste.
The Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea
Rooibos tea is an easy way to supply your body with healthy antioxidants and nutrients. Drinking rooibos tea may even prevent diseases and early signs of aging. Each sip supports long term wellness with better digestion, weight management, and more.
First of all, rooibos tea is naturally caffeine-free, making it a great choice for people who are sensitive to caffeine or looking to lower their caffeine intake. Even for people who enjoy caffeine in the morning, rooibos tea is an excellent evening beverage to ensure a peaceful night of sleep. Rooibos tea can also be consumed in larger quantities than most caffeinated beverages since there is no risk of caffeine overdose.
2. Powerful Antioxidants
Rooibos has an impressive dose of antioxidants, which can help protect your body from environmental damage from pollution, chemicals, and other toxins. Over time antioxidants help to prevent disease and early signs of aging. The most powerful antioxidants in rooibos tea are quercetin, aspalathin, and nothofagin. From strengthening the cardiovascular system to potentially helping prevent cancer, antioxidants in rooibos tea are excellent for long term health.
3. Low in Tannins
For people who are at risk for low iron or anemia, rooibos is one of the best teas to drink. Tannins are a type of astringent polyphenol commonly found in chocolate, black tea, green tea, wine, and other foods. In excess, tannins may start to block the absorption of iron from plant foods. Especially for vegans and vegetarians, iron absorption may improve by switching to rooibos tea. (But if your iron levels are healthy, there’s no need for concern.)
4. Regulates Cholesterol
Some studies have shown that drinking rooibos tea may regulate cholesterol levels, especially for people at risk of heart disease. Drinking 6 cups of rooibos tea daily lowered LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) and increased HDL (‘good’ cholesterol) after 6 weeks in a study of adults at risk for heart disease. Regulating cholesterol is a key factor in preventing heart disease so rooibos is an excellent choice for cardiovascular health.
5. Balances Blood Sugar
The antioxidants found in rooibos tea may help balance blood sugar. Two key antioxidants, aspalathin and nothofagin, may lower glucose levels in the blood and prevent insulin resistance. Regular consumption of rooibos tea could be helpful for managing symptoms of diabetes as well as preventing type 2 diabetes. Aside from preventing disease, well balanced blood sugar is ideal for keeping consistent energy levels throughout the day.
6. Aids Weight Loss
Rooibos tea has been studied to help with weight management by inhibiting adipogenesis, the process of building fat in the body. Drinking rooibos may lower the amount of fat stored in cells and prevent body fat from accumulating. It also balances leptin, the hunger hormone, so you don’t overeat. If you are looking to manage your weight, rooibos is a gentle yet effective tea.
7. Allergy Relief
Traditional use of rooibos tea as medicine in South Africa includes the treatment of allergies. Most likely, the quercetin in rooibos tea acts as a natural antihistamine. But this health benefit remains anecdotal as modern research has yet to confirm the effect. If you suffer from allergies, it doesn’t hurt to try drinking rooibos tea and see if it provides relief.
8. Stronger Bones
Research has shown that rooibos may strengthen your bones. Regular consumption of rooibos tea can help increase minerals in the bone structure and boost osteoblast activity (the cells that build bones). Rooibos may help prevent osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become brittle and prone to fractures. Especially for people who are middle-aged and older, strong bones are important for staying fit and healthy.
9. Better Digestion
Rooibos tea is a natural antispasmodic, which means it can help relax cramped muscles. If you experience cramps and indigestion after meals, a warm cup of rooibos may help. It is especially helpful for anxiety induced stomach discomfort, when your gut feels like it’s twisted in a knot. Whenever you feel those butterflies or tight cramping, take a sip of rooibos tea.
How to Prepare Rooibos Tea for Health Benefits
We know rooibos tea is tasty and amazing for your health. But what is the best way to brew it? For flavor, 7 minutes is enough time to steep the rooibos in hot water and make a delectable tea. If you want to maximize the health benefits, we recommend increasing the steep time to 10 minutes to let all the antioxidants and nutrients absorb into the water. It is also important to use boiling water to release the healthy compounds from the rooibos tea leaves.
Healthy Rooibos Infusion:
- Boil 8 oz. filtered water.
- Measure 1 tsp of rooibos tea leaves into an infuser basket in a mug or small teapot.
- Pour the water into the mug/teapot.
- Steep for 7-10 minutes.
- Remove the infuser basket and enjoy!
Tip: A fine mesh infuser basket is best for rooibos tea. The leaves are very small and may fall through strainers with larger holes.
In most studies done on rooibos tea, multiple cups of rooibos tea were consumed daily for several weeks to see positive health effects. We recommend drinking 4-6 cups daily to get the full benefits of rooibos tea. And even drinking 1-2 cups daily is great for boosting your health, so you can’t go wrong. With so many flavors available, it’s easy to drink rooibos tea all day!