There was a time, not so long ago, when the unique charms of rooibos – which is also known as redbush — were not well known outside of South Africa, the only place where it’s produced. Nowadays, however, it’s becoming increasingly popular in other parts of the world. Part of the reason for the increase in popularity of this herbal beverage is its mellow taste, which is not completely unlike black tea, and the fact that it contains no caffeine.
Another key reason for the upswing in the popularity of rooibos is the wide range of health benefits that are said to result from drinking it. Rooibos came to prominence in the Seventies in South Africa, largely due to a book called Allergies: An Amazing Discovery, by Annique Theron, but the beverage was already being consumed for a long time prior to that.
In addition to being caffeine-free, rooibos is also low in tannins, a component that has occasionally been known to cause gastric upset in some tea drinkers. Rooibos has also been praised for its high antioxidant content, particularly with respect to flavonoids. The green or unoxidized variety of rooibos is said by some to possess higher amounts of antioxidants than the oxidized variety.
Among the other potential health benefits sometimes attributed to rooibos are its use as a treatment for colic, fever, asthma, allergies, and sleep, digestive, and skin disorders. The last of these potential benefits has resulted in rooibos making more frequent appearances in a variety of topical skin care products. Studies have also discovered that rooibos might have antimutagenic properties. It may also have the ability to prevent radiation damage, affect antibody production and promote anti-HIV activity in animals.
The overall amount of research that’s been carried out on rooibos pales next to that of “real” tea – and particularly tea of the green variety. For more information, check out this listing of a few of the scientific studies that have been carried out on rooibos.
Williams is always posting more great articles on his blog, Tea Guy Speaks!