For generations, the indigenous people of South Africa have utilized local plants and herbs for medicinal practices. In the 1700s, a Swedish botanist discovered that native Bushmen were taking leaves harvested from the South African Red Bush and using them much like tea. The resulting beverage is an herbal infusion called rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) which is Afrikaans for “redbush” (rooi = red and bos = bush). Often simply referred to as “red tea,” rooibos tea offers dynamic flavor and color. Soon after its discovery, the use of rooibos spread throughout all of South Africa. Today, South African teas or rooibos is enjoyed in many countries throughout the world as well as in the United States.
Found only in South Africa, The South African Red Bush is typically grown and harvested in the mountainous region called Cederberg. Known as a tisane, or “herbal infusion,” rooibos tea is not technically “real tea” since it does not come from the Camellia sinensis bush. It does, however, undergo a similar cultivation process. After leaves from the bush are harvested, they are beaten or bruised between rollers to begin fermentation. Much like the difference between green tea and traditional black tea, the process for green rooibos tea ends there, before oxidization can begin. Rooibos tea, however, continues to oxidize in the hot African sun where the leaves turn from green to the intense red color for which rooibos is known.
Antioxidants called polyphenols and flavonoids are abundant in red tea and thought to remove free radicals from the body and offer up a variety of health benefits. In traditional South African societies, red tea was believed to help lower cholesterol and regulate sugar[i]. Additionally, the alpha hydroxy acid and zinc in red tea is good for skin health while its richness in calcium, manganese and fluoride assist in maintaining good bone structure. Our Be Well Red® Teas have a base of rooibos (red) tea and with inspiring names like get charged®, get happy®, and get young®, these teas may help help bring about your best, most healthful self.
Very pleasing to the palate, the taste of red tea is often described at refreshing with a full body and nutty undertones. Caffeine-free, the deep burgundy color, smooth aromas and robust flavors of rooibos offer a popular and healthy alternative to simulant-laden coffee.
The method for steeping red rea is straightforward:
- High quality water will yield the best cup. Heat filtered or bottled water to a rapid boil.
- Use one teaspoon of full-leaf loose red tea or one rooibos tea bag per 6 ounces of water.
- Pour water over the tea and steep for five to seven minutes.
- Discard tea, allow cooling and begin to sip.
No matter the name: Red Tea, Rooibos, Red Bush Tea, or South African Red Tea, its ability to expand all the way from beautiful South Africa to American tea cups proves its versatility and charm. It is a flavorful way to get refreshed and unwind! We hope you will join us in steeping a cup of rooibos tea and getting better acquainted with South Africa’s latest superstar.