Author’s Note: Thank you everyone for understanding the late blog! Sometimes, life just gets in the way. Now, back to what you came here to read about: tea.
Rooibos tea, also known as “red tea”, has been enjoyed by South Africans for centuries. This tea made from the red bush plant is quickly gaining popularity worldwide. With its nutty (I would argue also spicy) undertones, it’s easy to see why!
Rooibos tea is another type of tea that doesn’t have any of the camellia plant, just like herbal teas. However, the tea comes specifically from the red bush plant, or the Aspalathus Linearis. With its rich green leaves and bright red stem, it is quite visually appealing.
The plant only grows in the small Cederberg region of South Africa. According to Slate.com, US imports of rooibos tea from South Africa rose 30% last year and promise to show a similar increase this year. Sadly, this tea almost died away before it became popular! The indigenous Khoisan tribe who harvest the tea started dying out. Fortunately, botanist Carl Humberg rediscovered the leaves in 1772 and revived the plant, thus saving the drink. Russian immigrant Benjamin Ginsberg found the tea in 1904 and marketed the drink as a “mountain tea.”
During World War II, importing tea from Asia was nearly impossible. Rooibos proved to be a valuable resource for tea-lovers, though a pricey one due to the scarcity of the plant. The tea kept in the backdrop of everyone’s minds. In 1968, Annique Theron published a book all about rooibos teas and its health benefits. Because of everyone’s new-found understanding of red tea’s health benefits, sales soon exploded.
The red bush plant is harvested during the summer and early autumn months. Branches are cut by hand and then cut into pieces about 5 mm long. The plant is wet, then bruised and then allowed to ferment for 8-24 hours. The tea is then dried in the sun and finally, shipped to the stores for consumers.
Of course, the tea has multiple benefits which would make this blog a novel, so I will only list a few of the amazing properties of this drink.
Rooibos tea has no caffeine, so it is perfect for those with caffeine sensitivity. It is rich in antioxidants, perfect for preventing free radicals. It has been recommended for people suffering from irritability, headaches, insomnia, mild depression and even hypertension. Needless to say, it might be an important beverage during the upcoming holiday months!
Rooibos tea requires a water temperature of 208 degrees, so it is quite hot. This tea is forgiving and will not taste bitter if infused for longer than 5-6 minutes. However, it is the best for a perfect cup of rooibos tea.
A slightly spicy tea that can also have a sweet taste, rooibos tea would be a tea best eased into. In its native land, it is typically imbibed with milk and sugar, though many non-natives find it delicious with some honey. Personally, I love to get the full flavor of the tea and drink it plain.
With the rising popularity of rooibos tea, expect to find it in stores more often!