Rooibos Tea: Health Benefits and How to Brew Properly

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Rooibos tea is a caffeine-free herbal drink made from leaves of a shrub native to South Africa. Use this detailed guide from a Tea Sommelier to make rooibos tea at home properly.

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.
  • Rooibos is an herb that comes from a shrub called Aspalathus linearis. The leaves from the plant are made into a tea.
  • 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.

RELATED: Rooibos Latte

Rooibos Health Benefits

1. Provides Antioxidants

According to a 2019 scientific review, rooibos is rich in antioxidants. These are beneficial molecules that can protect cells from damage, ultimately minimizing the risk of chronic disease.

2. Contains No Caffeine

Rooibos is caffeine-free, making it ideal for people who are sensitive to caffeine. It also means you can enjoy rooibos tea later in the day without disrupting your sleep schedule. 

3. Minimizes Risk of Heart Disease 

The antioxidants in rooibos might also help reduce the risk of heart disease. This includes aspalathin, an antioxidant that protects the heart by reducing oxidative stress. 

Aspalathin might also help manage high cholesterol, a major risk factor of heart disease. According to a 2018 study, it may work by changing the way the body produces cholesterol.

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Rooibos Side Effects

1. Liver Toxicity
In a 2010 case report, a woman experienced liver problems after drinking rooibos. However, this was an extremely rare case.

2. Possible Estrogen-Like Effects
According to a 2017 animal study, certain compounds in rooibos might act like estrogen. But more research is needed to understand if rooibos has the same effect in humans.

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Step-by-Step Brewing Instructions

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 more than needed since you want extra to warm up 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.
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.
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Tea Sommelier’s Tips

Use good quality 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.

Loose tea is usually higher in quality than tea bags.
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.

Warm up the teapot.
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.

Adjust to how you like it.
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.

Strain it twice if needed.
If you don’t want to have any rooibos bits in your tea, strain it twice using a fine mesh strainer.

Storing it properly.
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.

Rooibos loose tea in a teapot.

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Rooibos Tea

Author: Jee Choe
How to make this red-colored herbal tea properly.
4.9 from 16 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/bag

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you don’t want to have any rooibos bits in your tea, strain it twice using a
  • Rooibos tea can be brewed and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Keep it covered or airtight glass container or pitcher.

NUTRITION

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