For centuries, herbal teas have been enjoyed across many cultures, blending an array of flowers, leaves, roots, fruits, and spices into a soothing, healthy drink. Technically, herbal teas aren’t teas at all, but are rather called “tisanes.” This is because true tea leaves, which come from the camellia sinensis plant, aren’t used in the production of herbal “tea.” Rooibos is a popular herbal tisane that hails from the Western Cape province of South Africa, known for its mellow honeyed flavor. Pronounced “roy-boss,” it’s delicious served hot or cold and boasts a long list of health benefits.
South African landscape at sunrise. Rooibos, or "red bush" is a South African shrub that grows along the Western and Easter Capes.
1. ROOIBOS HAS NO CAFFEINE
Called “rooiboshtee” or “rooibostee” after the red bush from which it hails in South Africa, rooibos tea leaves contain no caffeine. This is good news for tea drinkers who are sensitive to the natural stimulant; without it, a rooibos lover can enjoy several cups without fear of caffeine’s side effects. It also makes rooibos a wonderful choice for an evening drink, whether enjoyed after dinner or as part of a calming bedtime ritual.
2. ROOIBOS IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEART
Studies show that rooibos tea has the ability to significantly improve the lipid profiles of adults who are at risk of cardiovascular disease. It can lower triglycerides, LDL (or “bad” cholesterol) and overall cholesterol while raising HDL (or “good” cholesterol), reducing the risks associated with suboptimal test results, like heart attack and stroke.
3. ROOIBOS MAY REDUCE THE RISK OF CANCER
Thanks to the flavonoids found in rooibos – that is, the plant pigments which in part make fruits and vegetables so good for us – research findings point to the tea’s ability to reduce our carcinogenic risk. Studies have shown many benefits of rooibos consumption -- as well as that of similar tisanes and teas -- including risk reduction for skin cancer, esophageal papilloma, and multiple myeloma, among other conditions. Of course, rooibos tea has no magic powers, but its many healthy perks are worthy of note.
4. ROOIBOS IS AN IDEAL SUBSTITUTE FOR SWEETENED DRINKS
Like most tea blends, the sugar content of rooibos tea is zero, and it has no calories. For this reason, it’s a perfect substitute for sweetened drinks with little to no nutritional value. Those with a sweet tooth may discover that the natural flavor of rooibos reminds them of honey, which can satisfy a craving for sugar without the actual indulgence. As a result, tea without little to no added sugar or sweetener is often a wise choice for people with diabetes, sugar sensitivity, or concerns about caloric intake.
5. ROOIBOS HAS PLENTY OF ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants have been a major topic of discussion in culinary circles for decades, thanks to the host of health benefits associated with them. These substances, which are naturally found in many plant-based foods, are known for protecting the body’s cells against damage from free radicals.
In other words, antioxidants have the ability to act as a shield against oxidative stressors like air pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation from the sun, excessive blood sugar, and other factors that can cause cells to age more rapidly than usual. Rooibos and many other teas and tisanes contain high levels of antioxidants, making them a fantastic daily beverage for health-conscious tea lovers.