Rooibos Tea: What It is, Steps to Make It Properly, & Benefits

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Rooibos tea is a caffeine-free herbal drink made from leaves of a shrub native to South Africa. Read this detailed guide to making rooibos tea at home properly, hot or iced, from a certified Tea Sommelier!

Hot rooibos tea in a glass mug.

What is Rooibos Tea?

  • Rooibos tea is a tisane, or an herbal tea, made by infusing rooibos in water. It’s a naturally caffeine-free drink.
  • South Africa is the only country that produces rooibos and have been for centuries. It’s native to South Africa’s mountainous region of Cederberg.
  • Rooibos means “red bush” in Afrikaans, a language of southern Africa.
  • There are two kinds — rooibos and green rooibos. They differ in how they’re processed. The fully oxidized (exposed to air before drying) rooibos is red in color. The green rooibos is less oxidized. The green rooibos is not commonly sold.
  • The common pronunciation of rooibos is ROY-BOSS, but when said quickly, it sounds more like ROY-BUS.

See the rooibos tea web story.

Want to find out how to make more caffeine-free herbal drinks? Try Chamomile Tea, Hibiscus Tea, Peppermint Tea, and Rose Tea.

Rooibos Benefits

Ingredient Notes

Rooibos tea, water, and empty teapot on a surface.
  • Rooibos tea
    The more leaves in rooibos, the higher the quality. The more stems, the lower the quality. You’ll find more stems in tea bags which is why it’ll always cost less than loose rooibos tea. Rooibos that’s loose or in tea sachets will be higher in quality than in tea bags.
  • Water
    An important part of making a good cup of tea is to use good water. The better the water, the better the tea will taste so use filtered water if possible.

Steps to Make Hot Rooibos Tea

Four images showing steps to make rooibos tea.

For complete brewing guide, full ingredients, and instructions, scroll to the bottom.

  1. Boil water.
    Boiling water for tea is easy when you use an electric kettle with temperature settings. Boil extra water than what the tea calls for since you want more water to warm the teapot. 
  2. Warm up teapot.
    Pour some hot water into the teapot and swirl it around a bit. Discard the water.
  3. Put rooibos tea into the teapot and add hot water. Cover teapot and steep.
  4. Strain rooibos solids and pour hot tea into a teacup.
    Rooibos bits can escape the strainer so if you want less rooibos solids in your tea, strain it again, using a fine mesh strainer.

Tea Sommelier’s Tip: Warming up the teapot is an extra step that all tea professionals take the time to do, so that when the tea steeps, the water temperature won’t drop drastically.

My Electric Kettle Pick

Photo Credit: amazon.com

The electric kettle I use and recommend. It has a water temperature setting, which is key to making great tea.
SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

Steps to Make Iced Rooibos Tea

The best way to make iced rooibos tea is to cold brew it!

Two photos showing how to make iced cold brew rooibos tea.
  1. Put rooibos tea and water in a pitcher or glass container. Cover and place in refrigerator to cold brew.
  2. Strain out rooibos solids and pour tea into a cup.
    Adding ice is optional when it comes to cold brew since the tea is already chilled.

Expert Tips

  • If you don’t want to have any rooibos bits in your tea, strain it twice using a fine mesh strainer.
  • If you want a stronger cup of rooibos tea, add a couple of more minutes to your steep time or add another 1/2 teaspoon of rooibos loose tea.
  • To sweeten hot rooibos tea, try sugar, honey, or date syrup. To make it into a latte, try my rooibos latte recipe. To sweeten iced rooibos tea, stir in simple syrup since it’s the easiest to incorporate into cold tea.
  • Rooibos tea can be brewed and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Keep it covered or airtight glass container or pitcher.
  • Loose rooibos tea and tea sachets should be stored in an airtight container away from light, odors, humidity, and heat.

Questions You May Have

What does rooibos tea taste like?

Rooibos tastes like mild tea with woody and earthy notes with a touch of honey.

Should I add sugar and milk to rooibos tea?

Rooibos can be had with and without sugar or milk. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

Is there caffeine in rooibos tea?

Nope, there’s no caffeine so it’s great as a nighttime drink.

Is rooibos tea a real tea?

Rooibos tea comes from the rooibos plant, not the camellia sinensis plant so it’s not a real or true tea. Real tea is tea that comes from the camellia sinensis plant. Teas that comes from the camellia sinensis plant are black, oolong, green, yellow, white, and puerh teas. All these teas contain caffeine.

Loose rooibos tea in a teapot.

More Herbal Teas

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Rooibos Tea

Author: Jee Choe
How to make this red-colored herbal tea properly, hot and cold.
4.9 from 12 votes
Prep Time 2 mins
Steep Time 5 mins
Total Time 7 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving

INGREDIENTS
 

  • 1 cup water + more to warm teapot
  • 1 ½ teaspoons rooibos tea or 1 tea sachet

INSTRUCTIONS
 

  • Boil water.
    If using an electric kettle with temperature setting, set it to 208°F. Boil a little more water than needed so that it can be used to warm up the teapot. Filtered water is best.
  • Warm up teapot.
    Pour hot water into a teapot, halfway, and swirl it around a bit. Discard the water.
    Warming up the teapot is an extra step that all tea professionals take the time to do, so that when the tea steeps, the water temperature won't drop drastically.
  • Put rooibos tea into the teapot and add hot water. Cover teapot and steep for 5 minutes.
  • Strain rooibos solids and pour hot tea into a teacup.
    Rooibos bits can escape the strainer so if you want less rooibos solids in your tea, strain it again, using a fine mesh strainer.

NOTES

How to Make Cold Brew Rooibos Iced Tea

  1. Put rooibos tea and cool or room temperature water in a pitcher or glass container. Cover pitcher and place in refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Stir to make sure tea get dampened by the water and isn’t sitting dry on top of the water surface. Use filtered water for a better tasting iced tea. 
  2. Strain out rooibos solids and pour tea into a cup. Ice is optional since the tea is already chilled.

Brewing Guide

Hot Rooibos Tea
  • TEA: 1 ½ teaspoons loose rooibos tea or 1 tea sachet
  • WATER: 1 cup (8 oz.)
  • WATER TEMPERATURE: 208°F
  • STEEP TIME: 5 minutes
Cold Brew Rooibos Iced Tea
  • TEA: 1 ½ teaspoons loose rooibos tea or 1 tea sachet
  • WATER: 1 cup (8 oz.)
  • WATER TEMPERATURE: Cold water
  • STEEP TIME: 12 hours in the refrigerator

Tips

  • Use loose tea instead of tea bags for a better quality cup of tea.
  • For a stronger cup of rooibos tea, add a couple of more minutes to your steep time or add 1/2 teaspoon more of rooibos loose tea.
  • Use a glass teapot to make herbal tea so you can see the herbals in water.
  • If you want to sweeten hot tea, you can use any kind of sweetener from sugar to date syrup, but for sweetening iced tea, always use simple syrup since it’ll be the easiest to mix into a cold drink.
  • If you don’t want to have any rooibos bits in your tea, strain it twice using a fine mesh strainer.
  • Rooibos tea can be brewed and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Keep it covered or airtight glass container or pitcher.
  • Loose rooibos tea and tea sachets should be stored in an airtight container away from light, odors, humidity, and heat.

NUTRITION

Calories: 1 | Carbohydrates: 1g | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 3mg | Calcium: 7mg
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