What is Rooibos Tea? All about this flavorful, beneficial herbal tea

Whether you're new to the world of tea or a long-time tea lover, you may be wondering, "What is rooibos tea?" With so many teas and tea blends available to us, it's natural that we would come across unfamiliar teas as we browse or shop for tea. If you've curious about rooibos, keeping reading to get to know more about this incredibly tasty, beneficial herbal tea. 

Rooibos tea is a vibrantly colored, naturally caffeine-free herbal tea made from the South African Red Bush. Also referred to as "red tea," "bush tea," "red bush tea," or "South African red tea," rooibos tea has a nutty, sweet taste and many amazing wellness benefits

What is Rooibos Tea? | The Tea Talk

Although this beverage is typically referred to as "tea," many would call rooibos tea an herbal infusion or "tisane" (rather than a tea), since it doesn't come from the same tea plant (Camellia sinensis) that gives us our traditional teas (black, green, oolong, pu-erh, and white teas).

How do you pronounce "Rooibos?"

Rooibos is pronounced "ROY-boss."

The word "rooibos" is the Afrikaans word for "red bush." The Red Bush (Aspalanthus linearis), which grows only in the Cedarberg Mountain region in South Africa, is a member of the legume (pea) family. Its needle-like leaves are harvested to make rooibos tea.

Rooibos herbal tea is available in two types - the traditional red rooibos tea and green rooibos tea. The difference between the two varieties lies in the processing.

To make red rooibos tea, the harvested rooibos bush leaves are bruised and then left to oxidize for several hours (this is when rooibos develops its deep amber color, sweet fragrance, and unique taste) before being spread in thin layers in the hot African sun and left to dry. Then, final sorting, grading, and packaging take place.

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For the greenish-hued, stronger-tasting green rooibos tea, the oxidization step is omitted. The more complex processing method for green rooibos means it can be more costly and less readily available than traditional Rooibos.

What is Rooibos Tea? | The Tea Talk

Rooibos tea is much loved not only for its unique, pleasing taste, but also for the many wellness benefits of this lovely herbal tea. Naturally caffeine free rooibos is antioxidant-rich, high in vitamins and minerals, and well-known for helping with digestive troubles, skin concerns, insomnia, and so much more. 

Rooibos tea has a lovely color and aroma, and its rich flavor is enjoyable iced or hot, on its own or with milk and sugar or lemon and honey (visit our Rooibos Tea Recipes section for some tips and recipes for all sorts of ways to enjoy this healthful herbal tea). Rooibos tea can also be beneficial when used topically (for example, in a soothing Rooibos tea bath or a pampering facial steam). 

What is Rooibos tea good for? 

Not only naturally sweet, flavorful, and aromatic, rooibos tea is also incredibly good for us in so many ways. Learn more here about rooibos tea health benefits. 

What is "Red Tea?"

The answer to the question "What is red tea?"  depends somewhat on where you live. 

In much of the world, the name "red tea" has become synonymous with "Rooibos tea" or "African red tea."

However, in China, "red tea" is the name for what Westerners call "black tea." This tea (no matter what it is called) is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea plant, which is grown most commonly in China and Japan. The plant's leaves, once harvested, are dried and processed, resulting in a dark-colored, full-flavored tea. The reasoning behind the differences in the name is simply that, while the Chinese refer to the color of the infusion (red), Westerners refer instead to the color of the dried tea leaves (black).

Whether your "red tea" means the dark, flavorful tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant in China or Japan, or the sweet, fruity Rooibos tea from the wilds of South Africa, you are sure to have an intensely enjoyable tea-drinking experience. Sip and enjoy!

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