Botanical Name : Aspalathus linearis
Family :Fabaceae or leguminosae (pea family)
Species: A. linearis
Common Names :Rooibos , Redbush Tea, Red tea
Habitat :Through the 17th and 18th centuries, European travellers and botanists visiting the Cederberg region in South Africa commented on the profusion of “good plants” for curative purposes. In 1772, Swedish botanist Carl Thunberg noted that “the country people made tea” from a plant related to rooibos or redbush. Since then, rooibos has grown in popularity in South Africa, and has also gained considerable momentum in the worldwide market. A growing number of brand-name tea companies sell this tea, either by itself or as a component in an increasing variety of blends.
Technically, Rooibos is not a true tea. It comes from the plant Aspalathus linearis, rather than the Camellia plants that produce traditional teas. The name Rooibos comes from the Afrikaans word for ‘red bush’.
The Rooibos plant is a small shrubby bush that only grows in South Africa. The bush grows anywhere from 1/2 to 1 metre in height, with very thin, needle-like leaves. The leaves are green, but turn the characteristic red after fermentation.
The Rooibos seeds are precious, because the plants produce few of them. The seeds also pop out of the fruits as soon as they are ripe, making harvest difficult. Many farmers still raid anthills looking for Rooibos seeds.
It is a rather delicate plant, and the cultivation has not changed much over the years. The plants thrive best when left along in their natural soil. The farming of Rooibos has always been very close to nature and remains so today.
The locals have known that Rooibos can be used to make a delicious beverage for a very long time, but it was only ‘discovered’ in 1904 by a Russian immigrant named Benjamin Ginsberg. He was a settler in the area and thought that the tea was so enjoyable that it should be available to people everywhere. He was the first to market Rooibos tea.
Rooibos tea is a distinctive red colour and its taste is also unique with a very sweet and slightly nutty flavour. Its delicious taste and numerous healthful qualities has helped Rooibos become a popular tea all over the world. It is still fairly ‘new’ but more and more people are coming to love this unique red tea.
Rooibos has increased in popularity not only because of its wonderful colour and taste, but because of all the great things it can do for your health.
Rooibos has no caffeine and is low in tannin, so it can be enjoyed all day long without any unpleasant side effects. This also makes it a great tea for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Nutritional and health benefits:
Rooibos is becoming more popular in Western countries particularly among health-conscious consumers, due to its high level of antioxidants such as aspalathin and nothofagin, its lack of caffeine, and its low tannin levels compared to fully oxidized black tea or unoxidized green tea leaves. Rooibos also contains a number of phenolic compounds, including flavanols, flavones, flavanones, and dihydrochalcones.
Rooibos is purported to assist with nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems.
Traditional medicinal uses of rooibos in South Africa include alleviating infantile colic, allergies, asthma and dermatological problems.
Although human studies of rooibos are scarce in the scientific literature, animal studies suggest it has potent antioxidant, immune-modulating and chemopreventive effects. In addition, rooibos tea has not been found to have any adverse effects.
It is often claimed that “Green” rooibos (see above) has a higher antioxidant capacity than fully oxidized rooibos. However, one study, using two different ways of measuring antioxidant activity, found conflicting data, with green rooibos showing more activity under one measure, and less activity using the other. The study also found conflicting data when comparing both forms of rooibos to black, green, and oolong tea, although it consistently found both forms to have less activity than green tea.
In 2010, eleven poison dart frogs were raised at WWT Slimbridge by amphibian keepers in pint glasses of water, topped up with shop-bought Rooibos tea. Rooibos was used because it contains antioxidants with anti-fungal properties. This successfully protected the frogs against infection by chytridiomycosis.
A recent study performed by Japanese scientists also suggests that Rooibos tea is beneficial in the treatment of acne. This is due to levels of alpha hydroxy acid, zinc and superoxide dismutase present in the herb.
Various studies have shown the many health problems that can be helped by drinking Rooibos tea:-
*Eases irritability, headaches, nervous tension and insomnia.
*Acts as an anti-spasmodic agent, to relieve stomach cramps and colic in infants ->
*Can be used to treat hay fever, asthma and eczema
*Placed directly on the skin, it can slow the aging process
*Boosts the immune system
There are so many minerals in the tea, that it can almost be considered a nutritional supplement:
*Alpha-hydroxy (great for the skin)
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.