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How Long to Steep Rooibos Tea

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November 12, 2021

If there is one thing unequivocally true about tea, it is this: tea is comfort in a cup. Whether it is rooibos (also known as red tea), green tea, oolong tea, white tea, black tea, Pu Erh tea, maté, or chai tea, it always seems to be the perfect companion for cold days, crumpets or even served cold as a summer quencher. Not all tea arrives at this degree of deliciousness in the same way, however. Steeping instructions vary depending on the type of tea you have chosen and should be followed closely for optimal flavor and enjoyment.

Why drink rooibos tea instead of other teas?

One of many rooibos tea benefits is that it is rich in vitamins and minerals. For those who are controlling their caffeine-intake, you might ask, “Does rooibos tea have caffeine?” The answer is no, allowing you to try this delicious treat without the jitters.

Flavor profile of Rooibos Tea

The taste of the tea depends on what kind you’re brewing. If you’re brewing green rooibos tea, then it has a similar flavor to green tea in that it is light and delicate. On the other hand, if you are brewing red rooibos tea, then the taste is naturally sweeter and nuttier. Knowing how it tastes can help you determine which rooibos tea suits your palate.

Mull over this guide to find out exactly how long to steep rooibos tea and how to cultivate the perfect cup. By the time you are through, you will be ready to tap into your tea cupboard and put your newly acquired skills to the test. 

Timing is Everything, but Your Preferences Matter

It doesn’t matter whether you use rooibos tea leaves or a tea bag. For rooibos tea, you need to steep anywhere from five to seven minutes for this red-leaf tea to reach its full potential. The best way to drink rooibos tea is entirely up to you, but you wouldn’t get its optimum flavor when it’s steeped incorrectly. Although rooibos tea tends to be quite low in tannins, meaning it may not reach the same degree of bitterness as other teas do when they have been steeped for too long, we still recommend removing the tea bag or loose tea leaves before consuming. 

In addition, to create your perfect cup, try using a timer each time you steep. Start with five minutes, then move up to seven minutes in increments of thirty seconds. Doing this will allow you to find your preferred steep timing.

Other Factors That Contribute to Taste

While timing is a major contributor to taste—it’s not the only one. It also matters the type of water you use and the temperature of water you steep the tea in. 

Using the Right Water

Even before deciding on what type of tea to take off the shelf, think first about the water. The kind of water you use matters, indeed, and may have an impact on the overall flavor of the final result. We are not talking about sparkling or still water, of course, but rather hard or soft. 

Hard water has a higher calcium content than soft water and could result in a less than optimal appearance in the cup. To avoid this, it is best to use soft, filtered, or bottled water before putting it into the kettle. 

Boil it to Perfection

Another trick—or tool—you’ll want to have up your sleeve when making a cup of tea is a thermometer. The reason being? The temperature at which you steep your tea could contribute positively or negatively to that highly sought-after first sip. Depending on the tea, boiling water could burn the tea leaves themselves, whereas others will need it to reach their full flavor potential. 

Since rooibos tea is not actually a tea but, rather, an herbal infusion, a high water temperature will be necessary for optimal drinking. Be sure to bring your water up between 208 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit before pouring it over your tea bag or full-leaf tea.

Iced Cold Brewing Rooibos Tea

Hot brewing brings out the flavor profile of rooibos tea, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it cold. You can also enjoy iced rooibos tea iced. Just steep the standard hot brew at double-strength , then add ice to the drink. Iced rooibos tea is a perfect concoction for a humid summer day.

Rooibos Flavor Pairings

Before sending you off to your tea cupboard, we have a few more tips for you to get the most out of your afternoon tea time. Consider adding a few of these complementary ingredients to your rooibos tea to bring out the very best of the flavors in your mug: 

  • Dried rose petals – If a floral infusion sounds good to you, add a few culinary-grade rose petals to your cup of rooibos. To take it one step further, steep a cup of Good Hope Vanilla Red Tea and rose petals together and top it off with frothy milk for an irresistible latte treat. 
  • Peppermint – Cooling peppermint is another ingredient that would pair well with red or green-leaf rooibos. The next time you have a scratchy throat or are simply in the mood for something minty, add a few peppermint leaves and a squeeze of lemon to your mug. 
  • Orange – Peel back the flavors of your tea by combining it with a bit of citrus. Try steeping a cup of Cinnamon Orange Red Tea Bags, adding a fresh orange peel and, perhaps, even a splash of bourbon to drink down a delectable rooibos hot toddy on a cool autumn night. 

Steep, Sip and Enjoy with The Republic of Tea

Now that you know how to steep rooibos tea to perfection and even have a few special ingredients up your sleeve to maximize its full flavor potential, it is time to build upon your cabinet collection. 

Peruse the premium shelves of rooibos, chai, oolong, and more at The Republic of Tea

Here you will encounter more than just great-tasting tea. You will find yourself in good company amongst tea aficionados much like yourself who appreciate not only a high-quality cup of tea but also the countries and tea workers from which it came. Satisfied sipping starts here. 


Health.com. The Tea Temperature Trick That Will Give You a Perfect Cup Every Time.  


BBC Good Food. Guide to tea types


BBC. What’s the formula for a perfect cup of tea?