What is Rooibos Tea, What are its Benefits?

Consumed for hundreds of years in South Africa, rooibos tea has become a popular beverage worldwide. It can be a “decaffeinated” and “aromatic” alternative to black and green tea. Health experts praise this tea for its potential benefits. Rooibos tea; Also known as “red tea” or “red bush tea“. It is an endemic plant, a member of the “Fabaceae” family. It grows only in a small mountain area in the Cederberg (Cape of Good Hope) region on the west coast (Western Cape) of South Africa. It is obtained using the leaves of a bush scientifically called “Aspalathus linearis”. This shrub has a broom-like structure.

Rooibos leaves are traditionally fermented (fermented) until they turn a red-brown color.Unfermented green rooibos are also found in tea. However, fresh rooibos is less flavorful and more expensive than its traditional form. Red rooibos tea has a sweet and aromatic scent, while green rooibos tea has a more herbaceous flavor. In contrast, green rooibos contains higher levels of antioxidants than traditional red rooibos. Rooibos tea is often consumed in a similar way to black tea. Some people also add milk and sugar to this tea to add a different flavor. In the past years, this tea; Iced, espresso, latte and cappuccino forms were introduced in some countries.

Rooibos is a zero-calorie, caffeine-free, low-grain tea. It is a member of the legume family. It contains 50 percent more antioxidants than green tea. It has become an alternative tea to other traditional teas in many countries, especially South Africans. Rooibos tea contains many nutrients that the body needs. It contains many minerals, including iron, calcium, potassium, copper, iodine, fluorine, manganese, phosphorus, sodium, selenium, zinc, magnesium and alpha hydroxy acid. In summary: Rooibos is a traditional beverage produced from the leaves of a shrub grown in South Africa and is consumed like black tea.

What are the Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea?

Rooibos tea is one of the teas that is considered beneficial for health due to the antioxidants it contains. It is stated that it can be consumed for protection against cancer, heart disease and stroke. Besides; Apart from copper and fluoride, it is very rich in terms of vitamin and mineral source.

  • Contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Improves conditions of the heart and blood vessels, including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), high cholesterol, heart disease and circulatory problems.
  • It can help against diabetes, hay fever, inflammation, asthma, viral infections, chronic fatigue and chronic infections of the prostate.
  • Contains “chrysoeriol”, one of the “flavonoid” compounds that reduce blood pressure and increase blood circulation.
  • It reduces the occurrence of hypertension by regulating the hormones secreted from the adrenal gland.
  • Immune system; it helps to produce the necessary antibodies against cancer, allergic reactions and even AIDS.
  • Protects digestive health by preventing abdominal pain and diarrhea.
  • It contains substances that increase the mineral content in the bones.
  • Helps to lose weight with its fat burning substance contents.
  • It helps the secretion of “leptin”, known as the “satiety hormone”.
  • Quercetin in its content inhibits immune cells that trigger allergic reactions.
  • Recommended against seasonal allergy symptoms, food allergies, asthma and allergic skin reactions.
  • Helps reduce wrinkles due to its alpha hydroxy acid content and common antioxidants.
  • Antioxidant properties protect hair follicles from damage.

We can list information about its potential benefits and some researches as follows;

Rooibos is caffeine-free; contains less tannins; Does not contain oxalic acid! Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in black and green tea. Caffeine, which has benefits for daily activities, concentration and general mood; It can combat heart palpitations, anxiety, sleep problems and headaches. However, some people may have to avoid or prefer to avoid caffeine. Rooibos tea is an excellent alternative to black or green tea as a caffeine-free natural beverage.
Also; It may also be preferred because it has lower tannin levels compared to black or green tea. Tannins are a natural compound found in green and black tea. Tannins, which inhibit the absorption of certain substances such as iron, are notorious for this. On the other hand, unlike black and green tea, red rooibos does not contain oxalic acid. Consuming high amounts of oxalic acid increases the risk of kidney stones. So rooibos is an ideal beverage for anyone with kidney problems.

Rooibos is rich in antioxidants; Helps health against serious diseases! Rooibos has gained popularity because it contains antioxidants that are beneficial to health. It contains high levels of “aspalatin” and “quercetin”. In the long run, it can reduce the risks of heart disease and cancer. Rooibos tea increases antioxidant levels in the body. However, this documented increase was small and did not last long. In a study conducted on 15 people, the antioxidant levels in the blood; It was observed that it increased by 6.6 percent in red rooibos and 2.9 percent in green rooibos drinkers. This observed increase lasted 5 hours after participants drank 500 ml of tea made from 750 milligrams of rooibos tea leaves. In another study on 12 healthy men, rooibos tea had no effect on blood antioxidant levels.
Experts have interpreted this to be because “the antioxidants in rooibos are short-lived or inefficiently absorbed in the body.” So the antioxidants in rooibos are unbalanced and inefficient to absorb in the body.

What is Rooibos Tea, What are its Benefits?

Drinking rooibos tea may benefit people at risk for heart disease! The antioxidants found in rooibos contain potential benefits for a healthy heart. It has provided protection against various heart ailments such as heart attack, ideal cholesterol levels, and stroke. It also increased “good” cholesterol by lowering “bad” cholesterol in people at risk for heart disease. Drinking rooibos tea may have beneficial effects on blood pressure by inhibiting the Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE). ACE indirectly increases blood pressure by causing narrowing of blood vessels. In a study in which 17 people participated; Inhibition of ACE activity was observed 30-60 minutes after drinking the tea in participants who drank rooibos tea. However, this did not cause any change in blood pressure. There is also promising evidence that this tea can improve cholesterol levels. One study looked at the effects of rooibos on the risk of heart disease in 40 overweight men and women. Researchers have found that drinking 6 cups of this tea a day for 6 weeks leads to a decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as “bad cholesterol“. It is also known as “good cholesterol”. A small increase in known high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol was also observed. However, the same effect was not seen in healthy and normal weight people. 

Some of the antioxidants in Rooibos tea may reduce the risk of cancer! Some laboratory studies have revealed that the antioxidants “quercetin” and “luteolin” found in rooibos tea can kill cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth. Therefore, there is no definitive information on whether these two antioxidants are sufficient and whether they are sufficiently absorbed in the body for their beneficial effects. Large human research is needed to find stronger evidence that drinking rooibos tea can prevent the development of cancer. However, certain antioxidants in rooibos tea have been proven to kill cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth. However, there are no human studies on the effects of rooibos tea in this direction. Compounds in Rooibos tea may benefit patients with Type-2 diabetes! Rooibos tea is one of the known natural sources of the antioxidant called “aspalatin”. Studies in animals suggest that the compound “aspalatine” may have an anti-diabetic effect.
In a study in mice with type-2 diabetes, “aspalatin” helps stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. This is a promising study for people with Type-2 diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes. Animal studies have revealed that the specific antioxidants in rooibos tea can help stabilize blood sugar and improve insulin resistance. However, more studies in humans are needed to confirm this benefit.

What Are Other Potential Benefits of Rooibos Tea?

The claims about the health benefits of Rooibos tea are common; however, there is insufficient evidence to support many of these benefits. It is thought that the consumption of rooibos may be beneficial for bone health. However, studies focusing on rooibos tea are few in this regard. Rooibos is often recommended to reduce digestive problems. The evidence for this is also weak. Despite some positive anecdotal reports; There is no strong evidence that rooibos can help with sleep problems, allergies, headaches or colic. However, lack of evidence does not mean that this information is not correct! On the other hand, according to research published in the Journal of Food Science, it has emerged that rooibos may be a natural food preservative. The study conducted at Kyung Hee University in South Korea revealed that rooibos can be used as a preservative especially for meat products.

What are the Side Effects of Rooibos Tea?

What is Rooibos Tea, What are its Benefits?

Rooibos tea is generally known as a very safe beverage. Although it is very rare, it can have some negative side effects. A case study found that drinking large amounts of rooibos tea daily caused an increase in liver enzymes. Consumption of excessive amounts of rooibos every day may pose a risk of liver problems.
Some compounds in tea can stimulate the production of the female sex hormone estrogen. For this reason, some sources recommend that women with hormone-sensitive diseases such as breast cancer avoid rooibos. However, this effect is very mild; The negative effect is associated with consuming very large quantities.
Some studies have shown that consuming rooibos tea for a long time makes sperm more concentrated; therefore, it has revealed that it may have a minor effect on male fertility (reproductive capacity). In addition, it is suggested that rooibos tea may inhibit the positive effects of chemotherapy treatments.

How is Rooibos Tea Made?

Rooibos tea, unlike other traditional teas, contains sweet tannins.

It brews faster than other teas.

To brew rooibos;

  • Put a tablespoon of tea in a teapot.
  • Pour boiled water on it for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Let it brew for 6 to 7 minutes.
  • For cold rooibos tea, add two tablespoons of water to the tea.
  • Wait at least 10 minutes.
  • Honey or natural sweeteners can be added to the tea.

Another brewing method is as follows;

  • Use 1 teaspoon scale per 1 cup.
  • Add the tea to the boiling water and wait for it to brew.
  • After five minutes, remove the garbage and drain.
  • Milk can also be added if preferred.

History of Rooibos Tea

The earliest related to Rooibos tea references are found in some documents from 1772. This tea has been traded commercially since 1904. Botanist Dr. Pieter Le Fras Nortier is considered the father of the rooibos tea industry. Nortier’s research has led to the global distribution of this red tea.

The historical development of Rooibos tea is as follows;

  • In 1772, Swedish naturalist Carl Thunberg mentioned the rooibos plant.
  • Dutch settlers to the Western Cape introduced rooibos tea to those arriving by ship from Europe.
  • In 1904, Benjamin Ginsberg performed various experiments on his farm called “Rondegat” to improve the form of the rooibos.
  • Ginsberg simulated the traditional Chinese method of making Keemun tea by fermenting the tea.
  • The biggest obstacle to growing rooibos commercially was the inability of farmers to germinate rooibos seeds.
  • It took many years to implement the germination method that will enable the widespread production of tea.