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What is Red Rooibos Tea? – History and Health Benefits

If you are wondering what is red rooibos tea, you should definitely read this article. Rooibos tea is one of my favorite herbal teas because it tastes delicious and has many health benefits.

Continue reading, and learn about the history and great healing powers of this amazing beverage!

Rooibos tea contains no caffeine and no calories. Instead, it contains a lot of antioxidants and a variety of beneficial minerals. That is why this South African beverage is so healthy and I can sincerely recommend it for everyone.

History of Rooibos Tea

The indigenous Khoisan people of the Clanwilliam region in South Africa have been using rooibos leaves for thousands of years. To the Europeans, the first reports of rooibos came from Carl Thunberg, a Swedish botanist, who traveled to South Africa in 1772. He noticed that the Khoisan people climbed to the mountains and gathered leaves from wild rooibos bush.

After foraging for the leaves, the Khoisan would roll them into bags and bring them down from the mountains. Then the leaves were chopped smaller with axes, battered with hammers, and dried in the sun.

The Khoisan used the rooibos leaves to make herbal remedies for many different conditions.

Rooibos tea history: Khoisan people

In the 18th century, the Dutch settlers started drinking rooibos tea, mainly because it was cheaper than black tea imported from Europe. A Russian immigrant named Benjamin Ginsberg became fascinated about rooibos tea during the early 20th century. He is often called the father of commercial rooibos tea, and he was the first one to cure rooibos leaves by fermenting them in barrels.

Rooibos production started to increase in the 1930s when Dr. Pieter Le Fras Nortier developed a method for germinating rooibos seeds, which allowed larger-scale cultivation of the plant. Dr. Nortier also researched the medicinal properties of rooibos, and his work was continued by Dr. Annetjie Theron who discovered that rooibos helped with her baby’s colic.

Today, it is well-known that rooibos has many health benefits, and its global demand is high and is increasing quickly. However, it is cultivated only in South Africa. The attempts to grow it in other countries have failed.

Matula tea ingredients also include rooibos leaves, and this tea is often used to treat H. pylori bacteria and many other digestive issues.

What is Red Rooibos Tea

Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) means ‘red bush’ and it has needle-like green leaves and yellow flowers.

Red rooibos tea is brewed from fermented rooibos leaves. The fermenting process gives the leaves a reddish-brown color and a sweeter flavor.

Rooibos tea health benefits: rooibos bush

Tea made from fermented rooibos leaves tastes earthy, smooth, and a bit sweet. It contains high levels of antioxidants and is considered very healthy.

Green Rooibos Tea – The Unfermented Rooibos

Green rooibos tea is brewed from unfermented rooibos leaves. The leaves are harvested early in the morning and dried quickly to avoid fermentation.

Thus, the leaves retain their green color and have an even higher amount of antioxidants compared to red rooibos tea. After drying, the leaves are cooled and then packaged.

The taste of green rooibos tea is more grassy and mild compared to red rooibos.

How to Brew Rooibos Tea

You can brew rooibos tea by boiling spring (or filtered) water and steeping the tea bag or loose leaf rooibos for at least 4 minutes. You can let it steep up to 10 minutes to make a stronger tea.

It is common to add some milk and honey or sugar to enhance the flavor of rooibos tea. You can also make an excellent iced tea with rooibos.

Rooibos Tea Has Many Health Benefits

Rooibos tea has many health benefits that have been proven by research. It contains powerful antioxidants and important minerals that can make us healthier and help with many illnesses.

Here are the most important health benefits of rooibos tea:

1. Can Reduce Allergies

There are two flavonoids, chrysoeriol, and quercetin, found in rooibos tea, that are good for treating allergies.

Chrysoeriol has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to research it relieves wheezing and couching associated with allergies and asthma.

Quercetin blocks the releasing of histamine, so it works as a natural anti-histamine and prevents allergic symptoms from triggering.

man with allergy

2. May Improve Skin Health and Appearance

Rooibos tea contains alpha hydroxy acid and zinc which are very good for skin health.

A study conducted in Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa found out that rooibos tea helps with restoring the function of aged cells and thus, reduces wrinkles and makes skin look younger.

3. Can Lower Cholesterol and Improve Blood Pressure

Quercetin, the earlier mentioned flavonoid, has anti-inflammatory properties that promote an increase in good cholesterol (HDL) and prevent bad cholesterol (LDL) from attaching to arteries and blood vessels.

man blood pressure measurement

Rooibos tea also helps with inhibiting an angiotensin-converting enzyme which causes an increase in blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure at optimal levels helps with mitigating cardiovascular diseases and atherosclerosis.

Drink rooibos tea daily to help your blood pressure stay at optimal levels.

4. May Help with Weight Management

There are no calories in rooibos tea and it also increases your body’s leptin levels, which makes you feel fuller for a longer time. It also reduces the formation of new fat cells and promotes faster fat metabolism.

This makes rooibos tea one of the best teas for losing weight.

5. Aids Digestion and Alleviates Stomach Pain

There are several antispasmodic nutrients found in rooibos tea, which help with stomach pain. They have a relaxing effect on the digestion system and are capable of relieving stomach pain and cramps. In addition, the tannins in rooibos can reduce symptoms of diarrhea.

Rooibos aids digestion

6. Promotes Better Sleep

I have a habit of drinking rooibos tea before going to sleep.

It lowers your cortisol levels, which promotes better sleep. Cortisol is a stress hormone and high levels are not good for sleep. In addition, the magnesium and potassium in rooibos calm your nervous system and support melatonin production.

If you are having problems with insomnia and relaxation, check out my article about the best herbal teas for improving sleep.

7. Supports Healthier Bones

The polyphenols in rooibos tea improve osteoblast activity, which supports the development of healthy bones.

In addition, a study conducted in 2014, shows that the flavonoids luteolin and orientin enhance the mineral content of bone cells.

Bamboo leaf tea is another great herbal tea for improving bone health.

8. May Help with Controlling and Preventing Diabetes

Rooibos tea may help with keeping blood sugar levels steady.

Also, aspalathin and nothofagin, antioxidants found in rooibos tea, lower the inflammation of blood vessels and arteries. This can be a major benefit for diabetics because they tend to suffer from chronic low-level inflammation that affects their insulin system.

Potential Side Effects of Rooibos Tea

In general, rooibos tea is considered safe and it has no notable side effects.

However, there are a few things worth mentioning:

  • Large doses of rooibos tea are not recommended for people with hormone-sensitive diseases (e.g. breast cancer) because it can increase the production of estrogen.
  • The high amounts of antioxidants in rooibos tea could interfere with certain medications. If you are taking medications, it is recommended to consult a physician to avoid any problems.

Rooibos Tea – It’s Healthy and Delicious

I recommend that you watch this short video that does a great job in summarizing what rooibos tea is:

Introduction to Rooibos Tea, by The Chief Leaf, Tim Smith of ""

To sum it up, we can say that red rooibos tea is a healthy and tasty drink with an interesting history. In addition, there is also green rooibos tea which contains even more antioxidants.

Rooibos tea is safe to drink every day, even for small children. The only people who should be careful with drinking it, are people with certain diseases and/or medication.

Now that you know what red rooibos tea is, you probably want to try it out.

Read this article and find out what are my favorite rooibos tea products: Best Rooibos Tea Brands and Products.

If you have any comments or questions, please post them below.

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rooibos herbal tea health benefits

8 thoughts on “What is Red Rooibos Tea? – History and Health Benefits”

  1. Wow, what an amazing plant! I have heard of rooibos but I have not tried it yet.

    I will check out your link and try some for my allergies and the added benefit of magnesium. Do you think the rooibos teas at Starbucks are decent quality?

  2. Fantastic article! Really informative and interesting. I also see this tea down at my local health food stall, but always go straight to the Green Tea section, however next time some of this will be going straight into my bag.

    Also really liked your website. The selection of different youtube videos are great. Keep up the good work.


    • Hi Colin,

      I’m happy to hear that you found my article interesting! I also like green tea, especially with mint. Rooibos is very different from green tea, so I am sure you will enjoy drinking it for a change.

      I will definitely keep on posting more articles, and I will always include a Youtube video if there is one that fits the topic.


  3. I love rooibus tea from Sri Lanka. After a disaster in the area, I actually emailed Sri Lanka. I am not a tea drinker but I found a box years ago in Big Lots. When I got home, the box said “herbal tea and how the bush people give it to pregnant women” Meh. One day I was so sick from a sinus infection, I’d drink anything warm. How delicious and healing. I see this tea in places like Home Goods and Ross. Not a fan of the big name brand in grocery stores.

    • Hi Myrna,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I didn’t know that they also produce rooibos tea in Sri Lanka. I thought it always comes from South Africa.



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