- The benefits of rooibos tea far surpass green, black, and maybe even matcha tea.
- Native to South Africa, rooibos has been used to relieve teething gums, soothe colicky babies, and help people sleep for hundreds of years.
- Keep reading to learn about the benefits of this low-tannin, caffeine-free tea.
Introducing rooibos (pronounced “ROY-boss”), one of the hottest tea varietals to drink right now.
An herbal tea from South Africa, rooibos is a delicious, caffeine-free way to upgrade your tea habit. Boasting 50 percent more antioxidants than green tea, rooibos tea touts more benefits than green, black, and maybe even matcha tea.
While other teas have an acquired taste, rooibos tea has a sweet, mild flavor profile with notes of honey and vanilla. In fact, the red beverage is considered one of the most palate-pleasing types of tea out there.
For centuries, South Africans have used rooibos for its myriad health benefits, including to relieve teething gums, soothe colicky babies, and promote better and deeper sleep.
Its anti-inflammatory powers and antioxidant content also show promise in protecting against many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Rooibos tea may even help with weight loss.
Read on to learn about the benefits of rooibos tea, possible side effects and how to brew it.
This Yoga Nidra Meditation Will Make You Feel Like You Got a Full Night’s Sleep
What is rooibos tea and what does it taste like?
Rooibos tea comes from the shrub aspalathus linearis, and isn’t actually a true tea — it’s an herb. The leaves are long and needle-like. When it is harvested and dried, rooibos is brewed into a reddish-brown herbal infusion also known as African red tea and red bush tea. The plant is cut by hand and then bruised to encourage oxidation to develop the rich color and flavor. As it oxidizes, rooibos becomes redder and sweeter.
It has a mild, aromatic taste that is sweet and fruity with hints of vanilla and honey. You can drink it just as you would black or green tea — plain, with lemon and sweetener, as a creamy latte, or with butter as a caffeine-free substitute for Bulletproof Coffee.
In the late 1990s, green rooibos tea, a non-fermented, less oxidized type of rooibos, was invented. This less-oxidized version means it maintains a higher integrity of antioxidants. As for taste, green rooibos has a more grassy, mineral-like flavor.
Related: Green Tea vs. White vs. Black Tea – How Do They Stack Up?
The benefits of rooibos tea
Boosts antioxidant levels in the body
Rooibos contains 50% more antioxidants than green tea. Antioxidants clean up the harmful free radicals that can damage cells and cause cancer, curbing cellular damage and inflammation.
Research shows that drinking rooibos tea boosts levels of master antioxidant glutathione in the body. More powerful than any other antioxidant, glutathione protects against inflammation, toxins, free radicals, and pathogens. Think of it as your body’s own natural detoxifier.
Aspalathin — found only in rooibos tea — and nothofagin are two such polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) that have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting powers.
Improves blood pressure and circulation
Inflammation is a key player in the role of heart disease.
A study involving 17 healthy volunteers took a look at the effect of green, black, and rooibos tea had on angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), an enzyme located in the inner layer of blood vessels that causes blood vessels to shrink, thus increasing blood pressure. The study found that one hour after people drank 13.5 ounces of rooibos tea, ACE levels went down, lowering participants’ blood pressure.
Boosts good HDL cholesterol and lowers the bad stuff, too
Another study over a six-week period showed that drinking six cups of rooibos tea daily significantly increased total polyphenol levels, which improved HDL “good” cholesterol. It also lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, another lipid found in your blood.
Keeps hair strong and skin healthy
The benefits of rooibos tea go beyond drinking it. Research shows that applying a 10% rooibos tea extract to hair significantly increased hair growth in almost 90 percent of the volunteers.
Rooibos extract is also recommended to use on the skin for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and soothing properties.
Studies have shown that rooibos tea is pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative on skin cancer cells in vitro and on mouse skin. Translation: it helped destroy cancer cells and keep them from spreading in test tubes and in animal studies. More research on humans is needed to know for sure.
Aids in weight loss
Low calorie and naturally sweet, with the help of the antioxidants and balancing blood sugar, rooibos tea can be a great addition to your beverage choices while trying to lose weight.
Research suggests that aspalathin, an active ingredient in rooibos tea, helps reduce stress hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage, which is also linked to heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Data from this study showed that rooibos tea has the potential for preventing obesity by affecting the balance of energy and how it’s used as energy or stored as fat.
To get the most out of aspalathin, choose green rooibos over red.
Related: Kickstart Your Weight Loss With the Keto Diet. Here’s How to Get Started
Treats and prevents diabetes
Researchers studied the effect of antioxidants aspalathin and nothofagin on inflammation caused by high blood sugar and found that it lowered inflammation in the vascular system (aka arteries and blood vessels). People with diabetes tend to have chronic, low levels of inflammation that affects insulin’s function and contributes to the disease. Reducing inflammation may therefore provide major benefits in the treatment of diabetes and diabetic complications.
Another study in type 2 diabetic mice found that aspalathin helped balance blood sugar by stimulating the glucose uptake in muscle tissues.
Related: Reverse Insulin Resistance With Intermittent Fasting
In a study using rabbits and mice, results showed that rooibos tea benefits the digestive system by reducing diarrhea, calming muscle spasms in the stomach, and decreasing gastric secretions. The presence of flavonoids such as quercetin, luteolin, and others are thought to be the reasons for the beneficial effects on the GI system.
Calms colicky babies
In 1968, Annetjie Theron was a South African mother who was struggling with a colicky infant. She discovered that a rooibos tea infusion calmed her baby of chronic restlessness, vomiting, and stomach cramps. She studied the benefits of rooibos tea and eventually went on to create her own products using Rooibos extract.
May help prevent cancer
While the development of cancer is a complex process, it has been well established that oxidative damage, generally associated with free radicals, is responsible for cancer development. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/ Quercetin and luteolin are two flavonoids found in rooibos tea
that have been studied on pancreatic tumor cells, showing they suppress tumor growth and promote cancer cell death.
Boosts bone health
The variety of polyphenols in rooibos tea has been shown to improve osteoblast activity (aka cells that develop bones).
The flavonoids orientin and luteolin were specifically studied on bone cells and showed an increased level of bone growth and mitochondrial activity. These flavonoids enhanced the mineral content of the bone cells used in the study.
How to make rooibos tea
- 1 teaspoon or tea bag of Rooibos tea
- 8oz. water
Boil your water and pour over the tea. Infuse for 5-15 minutes covered. You can add a sweetener such as honey or stevia to taste.
You can also make it a part of your Bulletproof intermittent fast by adding grass-fed butter and Brain Octane Oil. It also blends well with vanilla, chocolate, or citrus flavors.
Try: Rooibos Chai Tea Latte Recipe
Rooibos tea side effects
While Rooibos is an incredible product for most, as with any product, there can be side effects for some people. If you have liver or kidney disease, hormonal cancers, or are going through chemotherapy treatment, consult your doctor before using rooibos regularly.
While rooibos can improve sperm production, prolonged exposure in men could also have an impact on male fertility.