You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘rooibos’ tag.

tolsll_roobou_-bourbon-st-vanilla-rooibos-caffeine-free-loose-leaf-tea.I am wondering why we chose Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos for one of our March Teas of the Month. For St. Patrick’s Day I am thinking Scotch (by association), Irish Whisky, green beer. But Bourbon? Ok. Let’s think this through another way – Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras. But that was in February this year. So I’m trying real hard to tie it in to March without questioning your merchandiser, Tammy, because she is a sweetheart and so good at her job.

bourbon streetOur website espouses, “The Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos Caffeine Free Tea blend from English Tea Store has a cinnamon spice flavor that gives this Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos a wonderful vanilla n’ jazz character. Terrific served hot and sensational served iced, you can also make rooibos lattes for a super taste (and if you listen carefully you will hear the riverboat steam whistles and wailing of a saxophone along the Mississippi).”

logo4After searching “Bourbon March” I came up with the only thing that makes sense – there is a bourbon and bacon festival in March this year. DelRay Beach in Florida sponsors three different food events throughout the year – garlic, bourbon and bacon, and wine and seafood. At the bourbon and bacon festival, attendees can expect seminars and tastings, as well as pork recipes of all kinds set to the soundtrack of live blues musicians. I doubt anyone will be sipping our Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos but a town that loves bacon, garlic, and music is ok with me.

And it’s actually probably much safer. Except for your heart.

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Groundhog-Standing2You might have taken a look at your calendar and have seen the words “Groundhog Day” gracing the February 2nd spot. Groundhog day is an important day for many, especially the people who are dealing with cold weather. California doesn’t have too many groundhogs that I know of (plenty of gophers in my area), so it is a good time for me to learn about this day.

Why February 2nd? It’s because that day is Candlemas Day, an ancient Christian festival marking the midway point between winter and spring. All the candles that were used in the church in the coming year were brought into the church and a blessing was said over them, making it the “Mass of the Candles.” In the medieval days, it was believed the hibernating animals left their dens on Candlemas day to observe the weather and forecast early springs and late winters. The English used to use otters and badgers to forecast the weather and planting seasons as did the Germans. When German settlers came to the United States, they were not able to easily find badgers, especially in Pennsylvania where many had settled. The settlers then decided a groundhog was more suitable since they were more common.

The groundhog pops out on this day from the ground once a year. If he sees his shadow, it’s six more weeks of winter. However, if he doesn’t see his shadow, it’s an early spring!

You will be surprised to know that Groundhog Day does not just take place in the United States but in Canada as well. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is a well-known town that celebrates Groundhog Day. They were the first town to hold Groundhog Day 1887 with the original groundhog, who has always been named Punxsutawney Phil. This now-televised event also attracts tourists to the small town of Punxsutawney just to see the famous little groundhog and have fun along with the town regulars.

Tea_CupNow, if six more weeks of winter is ahead, a good way to beat it is with a good cup of hot tea. A nice cup of Yorkshire tea is a good accompaniment to a cold winter’s day. Perhaps if you do not want caffeine and just want to relax (or go back to sleep like the groundhog!), then a Georgia Peach Rooibos is another good tea. Very peachy and soothing, the color of the leaves will help take your mind off the dreary winter days. Of course, if the groundhog predicts an early spring, try them iced!

~CD

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I like both Redbush (Rooibos) and Honeybush teas, though both are actually the leaves of flowering legumes, and not really tea at all. Neither has caffeine, both are low in tannin, and both come from Africa. Both are rich sources of antioxidants. Both have naturally sweet undertones. Close cousins, both these herbs require a longer-than-Ceylon steeping, of 5-7 minutes. Because of the low tannin, the “tea” will tolerate this length without becoming bitter. Rooibos is only grown in South Africa, and Honeybush is rarer still, relegated to only the eastern and western cape regions of South Africa. Both are harvested by cutting and bruising, oxidizing (fermenting), then drying. Given the similarities, why choose one over the other?

honeybushHoneybush was one of the first black tea substitutes. There are 23 species, each with a slight varietal flavouring. Originally cultivated by hand in the mountainous regions of east coast South Africa, much honeybush is still hand picked today. However, in 1998, group of South African farmers formed the South African Honeybush Producers Organization (SAHPA), which promotes new growing and production techniques. As a result, two large Honeybush plantations have opened since 2001, as have many Honeybush research partnerships. If you have tasted this tea, more prolific Honeybush is a very good thing! This tea is usually composed simply of honeybush, which carries undertones of wood and honey. It is so aromatic that it can be steeped on the stove and left to scent a room. It is likened to a hot apricot or dried fruit mixture in taste and a bit of honey added while brewing enhances the natural flavour. It is said to have a stronger but more pleasant flavour, than Rooibos.

bourbonRooibos, Honeybush’s more robust cousin, has long been believed to alleviate headaches and stomach aches. It also answers to the name Red Tea, Bush Tea, and Red Bush Tea. It has an earthy, creamy, sweet flavour. Unlike most teas, there is nutrition information accompanying this herb. Though trace, a typical cup of Rooibos contains Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Copper, Zinc, Magnesium, Fluoride, and Manganese. Unlike plain honeybush, rooibos often comes flavoured: strawberries, lemon, orange, peach, pina colada, bourbon street vanilla, the list is endless. It is said to taste more “medicinal” and the flavoring helps cut down on that. Unlike honeybush, if you steep it a bit less than the 5-7 minutes, you will still get a full-bodied cup. The needle-like leaves are fermented, which gives the plant its reddish color and enhances flavor. Unoxidized Rooibos is available as “green” rooibos but is grassy, malty, and pricier than the red version.

Those who have tried both range from “very similar” to “distant cousins who don’t even talk and I much prefer…” I am drinking a porcelain cup of unadulterated, delicate honeybush right now and it suits me fine, just as a rich rooibos in a thick earthenware mug on a snowy day does.

~Your Editor

There is a lot of concern these days over caffeine and about drinking something that will help this ailment or that ailment or make your hair shinier, your skin glow, and other such beneficial effects. Several herbals have come to the forefront, mainly through the constant marketing of them as miracle cures. But some of these also taste good. Imagine that! I selected five that seem to be the most common.

Top to bottom: Rooibos, Honeybush, Chamomile, Yerba Mate, Peppermint (ETS images)

Top to bottom: Rooibos, Honeybush, Chamomile, Yerba Mate, Peppermint (ETS images)

1 Rooibos

Rooibos (Dutch for “Redbush”) is from the plant Aspalathus linearis. The leaves turn red after being processed and infuse a red liquid containing some beneficial ingredients including calcium, potassium, and iron, but caffeine-free. This herbal became popular as a substitute for true tea during World War II due to difficulty shipping tea from Asia to Europe, just as chicory became a substitute for coffee when bean prices spiked. When this infusion started getting introduced to the U.S. market, a vendor decided it would sell better if called “red tea.” They ended up adding to the already sizable name confusion out there. Plus, there was already a red tea (it’s what Asians call a fully oxidized tea – we call that a “black tea”).

2 Honeybush

Honeybush is not a “tea” but rather one of those herbals made from an entirely different plant than the tea bush (Camellia Sinensis). The plant is from the cyclopia species and grows in South Africa in the rugged, inaccessible areas of the mountains near the Cape. The flowers and leaves, which are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, have been used to make infusions for centuries by natives of the area as a relief for various ailments. The infusion is caffeine-free, a great attraction for people who want to avoid anything stimulating and another great reason not to call it “tea.” The flavor is usually sweet and smooth, but it also lends itself to added flavorings.

3 Chamomile

Chamomile (aka “camomile”) is one of the most popular and well-known floral herbals. It is a flower similar in appearance to the daisy and in the same botanical family. Snow white wide, flat petals encircle a sunny yellow somewhat spherical center that is much larger than a daisy’s. This flower has been part of the herbalist’s “toolkit” since ancient Egyptian times, where it was used as a cure for malaria and was dedicated to the sun god, Ra. There is Roman chamomile and German chamomile (don’t let the names fool you, since they are grown elsewhere). However, Egyptian chamomile is widely noted as far more fragrant and flavorful than those. When buying chamomile, be sure to deal with a reputable vendor to assure you get true chamomile, not pineapple weed, which is sometimes substituted and can cause strong allergic reactions in hayfever sufferers (more so than from true chamomile).

4 Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is an herbal beverage that’s wildly popular in many countries in South America. It is traditionally drunk as a hot beverage that is served in a gourd called a “mate.” You sip it through a metal straw (a bombilla) that filters out the leaves and gritty bits. The flavor in its pure form can be a bit tough for the uninitiated to take but is still becoming increasingly popular in North America and elsewhere around the world. Added flavorings help many folks adjust to it. Plus, you can find it in a convenient bagged form.

5 Mint

Peppermint is a North American grown herb that contains no caffeine. Since it has a number of digestive aid properties, peppermint is often consumed after meals, including in a tisane or infusion. The oils in peppermint are said to stimulate the flow of secretions in the stomach and help relieve gas pains and calm your stomach. It’s use as a breath fresher is well-known. There are several brands, including Taylors of Harrogate, Twinings, and Harrison & Crosfield, plus blends like Moroccan Mint, or China White with Mint.

Choice galore for those of you ultra sensitive to caffeine or who just want something different. Enjoy!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hearing things mentioned or coming across them online or in stores can catch my interest and get me in the mood to explore them more, such as these herbal infusions:

1 Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate (ETS image)

Yerba Mate (ETS image)

This South American plant has become something of a trendy beverage in many Western countries, renowned for its coffee-like ability to wake you up, but without the crash or acidity of that intense, but harsh, morning favourite. Whilst I have tried mate on several occasions, they have almost exclusively been flavoured mates. I am not usually a favoured tea or infusion person, but I have, for the most part, enjoyed my limited foray into yerba mate. That said, I feel that I have not really extensively experienced yerba mate the traditional way ­– drunk from a gourd ­– and this is first on my list to explore more.

2 Rooibos

Loose Leaf Rooibos (ETS image)

Loose Leaf Rooibos (ETS image)

This South African plant’s Dutch name means ‘red bush’– unsurprising, really, since this herbal infusion is easily identified by its red colour and small, needle-like leaves. Rooibos has become a lot more mainstream in recent years, although it can still be a challenge to find it in supermarkets, and you should not really be surprised when people you mention it to have not heard of it. That said, it has sneaked onto a lot more people’s radars, at least in the flavoured variety of Vanilla Rooibos. This is certainly the rooibos that I drink most often. Although I have tried pure rooibos, as well as other flavoured rooibos infusions, it is vanilla rooibos that is the easiest to find. But more importantly,  it happens to be a variety of rooibos that I really do enjoy. It is a tea that I go to when I need something a little sweet, and as it contains no caffeine, it is often perfect for an after dinner cup. That said, , I do not feel that I have a very good handle on pure rooibos, and as such I would like to get to know rooibos in its pure form a little better before I automatically reach for my vanilla rooibos.

3 Berry herbal infusions

I am really not a fan of berry herbal infusions. More or less just dried fruits plonked in hot water, these flavours have never really done it for me–  in teas or tisanes. However, I am willing to suspend my prejudices in an attempt to find a variety of berry infusion that, although I may not love, I can at least appreciate. Perhaps something that combines the berry flavours with something else to offset them would do the trick, such as this infusion which blends raspberry with vanilla.

4 Korean Ginger ‘Tea’

This is perhaps a bit of a cheat, because ginger infusions rank as one of my favourite herbal infusions (possibly the favourite). So, while I do not need any encouragement to explore them more, there is one specific variety that I would like to investigate making for myself: a Korean variation commonly referred to as Korean Ginger Tea. The ginger flavour is quite intense, and it will definitely clear out your head if you are suffering from any type of cold. But the intensity of the ginger is balanced out with a good dose of sweetness, which may be too much for those of you who do not enjoy sweet tea, but that, a lot of the time, really hits the spot for me.

5 Aniseed infusion

I recently came across a herbal infusion whose main ingredient was aniseed, which made me realise that it was not a flavour I was particularly familiar with in tea. Aniseed is what gives liquorice its distinctive flavour, and I plan to look out for infusions containing aniseed to see what it adds, or doesn’t, to a hot cuppa.  

See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Elizabethan Pantry Strawberry Preserves with Champagne (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Elizabethan Pantry Strawberry Preserves with Champagne (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Seeing red at tea time is more common than you might think. No, we’re not talking about getting your ire up. We’re talking about red teawares, red tea time treats, and even red tea. Who knew red could be such an enjoyable color?

Red Teawares

Red is certainly popular for teawares during the Christmas and Valentine’s Day seasons, but it can be a great color all year round. The range of red hues is rather broad, also, going from almost purple at one end to almost orange at the other. Don’t forget red tea towels, tablecloths, and napkins. Might as well go all the way here!

Red Tea Time Treats

There are lots of red fruits, of course, from strawberries, cherries, and raspberries to apples and red plums, and there are also jams and preserves made from these fruits like Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves. All are great as tea time treats, too! Whether served atop a biscuit or scone, baked into a pie or in something like Mr Kipling Cherry Bakewells, or served up fresh with cheeses and crackers, these red tea time treats are palate pleasing. Another sweet treat is red velvet cake (also good as cupcakes) with not only a beautiful color but also a wonderful texture and taste.

Observe the reddish hue of this English Breakfast Blend tea! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Observe the reddish hue of this English Breakfast Blend tea! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Red Tea

You know it as “black tea” but the liquid is usually a deep ruby red, especially from Assam teas and blends that include this type of tea. This true “red tea” (unlike the stuff called “red tea” which is really made from Rooibos) is great for tea time, since it seems to be a natural accompaniment for most of the types of foods people think of for such occasions.

So, before you sign up for those anger management classes, relax — seeing red at tea time is perfectly normal. Enjoy!

See also:
Red Tea vs Black Tea — More Tea Nomenclature Debacles

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rooibos

Rooibos

Rooibos is not for everyone (as the esteemed editor of this fine publication will confirm) but this herbal beverage that’s produced solely in South Africa is beloved by increasing numbers of consumers and has been much in the news lately. Rooibos is also known as redbush, for the deep reddish color of its fine leaves and the resulting liquid. It’s reputed to have a wide range of health benefits, though many of these have yet to be confirmed by actual research.

A large part of the reason for rooibos being in the news so much recently is due to a media blitz, of sorts, by an industry that’s increasing its efforts to remain sustainable and profitable. Though efforts have been made to grow rooibos elsewhere, they have not amounted to much, and the industry remains centered in one small region of southwestern South Africa.

The rooibos industry is currently valued at about $23 billion and growers turn out about 15,000 tons of the stuff annually, with about half of that being consumed at home. The industry’s biggest export customer is the Netherlands. Other countries that import significant amounts of the stuff include Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States. Though local demand in South Africa has actually increased in recent years, demand for exports dropped slightly in the period between 2007 and 2011.

One of the strategies the industry is counting on to help boost business is an international study that’s now underway. It’s being funded by the government of the Netherlands, the biggest customer for rooibos, and managed by the International Trade Centre. The study is designed to determine how the industry can boost rooibos’s export competitiveness.

The industry is also planning to move into India and China and after winning a lengthy lawsuit against an American company is trying to gain geographical indication status to help protect the product name. Examples of other producers who have already gained such status include Champagne and Roquefort Cheese.

For more background on rooibos and a pair of diametrically opposed opinions on the beverage refer to these articles, previously published here and here at The English Tea Store Blog. For some thoughts on what rooibos actually tastes like take a look at the this flavor wheel created by South African researchers.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hawaiian Colada Rooibos

Hawaiian Colada Rooibos

Name: Hawaiian Colada Rooibos

Brand: English Tea Store

Type: Herbal tisane, rooibos

Form: Loose leaf

Review: If you like pineapple, The English Tea Store’s Hawaiian Colada Rooibos ought to be up your alley. I’ve never had a flavored tea or tisane in which the pineapple flavor is so strong. While this isn’t a bad thing, if you aren’t overfond of pineapple, this may not be the drink for you. On the other hand, if you are the sort that savors pineapple hard candies and the like, give Hawaiian Colada Rooibos a try.

As its  name suggests, Hawaiian Colada Rooibos contains pineapple and coconut flavoring and is supposed to be reminiscent of a tropical drink. I don’t taste a lot of coconut, although the tisane is remarkably sweet (even though it is unsweetened) so it may be that the coconut flavor is what provides the sweetness. The pineapple dominates and is actually well-matched with the rooibos.

I’m generally not a huge fan of iced rooibos, but Hawaiian Colada Rooibos is actually quite awesome on ice. The tangy pineapple flavors come alive, creating a most refreshing beverage.

Preparation Tips: Because of the strength of the pineapple flavor, don’t use too much dry leaf while preparing this tisane. The result could be a decidedly heavy-handed beverage. You should, of course, experiment to find out how much leaf you like, but I’d recommend starting with 1 tablespoon of rooibos to about 8 ounces of water if preparing as a hot tea. If you plan to serve it iced, which I recommend, double the amount of rooibos. Allow to steep for 5-7 minutes for best results.

Serving Tips:  Fans of pineapple will probably enjoy this tea on its own, though the pineapple flavor makes it a suitable match to many different foods. Try it with Chinese food some evening!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Godiva Roche Rooibos

Godiva Roche Rooibos

Name: Godiva Roche Rooibos

Brand: English Tea Store

Type: Herbal Tisane, Rooibos

Form: Loose leaf

Review: Looking for a chocolate rooibos? Godiva Roche Rooibos is a good one. Made from rooibos, cacao beans and peels, vanilla and what appears to be a handful of calandula petals, this is certainly a rich treat for chocolate fans.

Chocolate and rooibos actually go together quite well: The sweetness of the chocolate meshes with the earthy characteristics of the rooibos nicely, creating a soothing, yet also elegant drink. The English Tea Store was wise to add a strong dose of vanilla to this brew, as vanilla enhances the sweetness of chocolate and is a natural pairing with rooibos.

One Warning: Many people find themselves initially disappointed by chocolate-flavored rooibos because it isn’t as sweet as they expect it to be. Keep in mind that Godiva Roche Rooibos isn’t sweetened, so if you are used to drinking beverages that contain sugar, this tisane may seem somewhat austere at first. That said, I don’t normally use sweetener in my teas or tisanes and I find this rooibos to be sweet enough on its own. If you are hoping to drink something that tastes like a chocolate bar, be prepared to add some sugar or honey to your cup.

Preparation Tips: If you like a very rich chocolate flavor, use 2 tablespoons of dry leaf to 8 ounces of water when preparing Godiva Roche Rooibos and allow to steep for about eight minutes. If you prefer a more subtle cup, reduce the steep time to five minutes and adjust the leaf amount to taste. Add milk and sweetener for a lower-calorie alternative to hot chocolate.

Serving Tips: Drink Godiva Roche Rooibos on its own as a snack or liquid dessert. If you really want to pair it with food, choose plain butter or sugar cookies.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunshine Lemon Rooibos

Sunshine Lemon Rooibos

Name: Sunshine Lemon Rooibos

Brand: English Tea Store

Type: Rooibos, flavored

Form: Loose leaf

Review: Rooibos is my favorite herb for steeping, and this blend is truly delicious. Sunshine Lemon Rooibos combines the sweet, slightly earthy flavor of rooibos with lemon flavoring and dried lemongrass, creating a desert-like tisane that is a lovely alternative to calorie-laden treats. Reminiscent of lemon meringue pie, this tea is a wonderful way to address sweet cravings.

I’ve tried other versions of lemon rooibos in the past, and note that the English Tea Store’s version is well-balanced: The lemon flavor does not overwhelm the rooibos, but compliments it. If you are the sort that want a very heavy lemon flavor, this tisane may not work well for you, though I would suggest giving it a try. Incidentally, the price of this tisane is ridiculously low, making it an excellent value.

Preparation Tips: Use boiling water for this tea, as it is the best temperature for fully extracting the flavor of the rooibos and herbs. Allow to steep for eight minutes for a full-flavored, rich cup of lemony rooibos. Keep in mind that while rooibos is naturally sweet, it isn’t overly so. If you feel the need for a very sweet tisane, you may need to add some type of sweetener to this tea before serving. Honey may be a good choice, as would plain sugar or a bit of stevia.  Like most rooibos, it does not hold up well to multiple steepings. Discard the leaves from the first steep and use fresh ones for each infusion.

Serving Tips: This is a delightful tisane for sipping on its own, but it also goes well with plain pastries and cookies. It also, for some reason, goes extremely well with chocolate. It also makes a nice iced tea: Try adding a slice of fresh lemon to each glass to intensify the lemon flavor.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, LLC, and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, LLC., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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