Origins of Rooibos Tea
Rooibos tea (pronounced ROY-boss), meaning red bush in Afrikaans, is known as red tea or African red tea. Rooibos is a type of caffeine free herbal tea that has gained popularity in recent years for its many health benefits.
It is grown mainly in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa in the Western Cape province. There are two types of Rooibos tea: red Rooibos and green Rooibos. Red rooibos tea is oxidized and tastes more similar to black tea and oolong tea. Green rooibos tea is unoxidized and has similar flavor characteristics to green tea.
This tea is made using the long needle leaves of the plant, which are green when still growing on the plant and turn red during the fermentation process. Rooibos contains polyphenols such as aspalathin, a flavonoid that has blood glucose lowering properties that are not found in any other foods.
Rooibos sweet aromatic flavor can be enhanced with slices of lemon or a dash of honey and can be enjoyed warm or cold. It brews into a reddish-brown hue which is visually appealing
While it is traditionally used medicinally to treat a variety of ailments, there are also some non-traditional advantages to drinking rooibos tea.
Non-Traditional Advantages of Drinking Rooibos Tea
- Hydration: Rooibos tea is a great way to stay hydrated throughout the day. Unlike caffeinated beverages like coffee and black tea, which can have a dehydrating effect on the body, rooibos tea is a great way to quench your thirst without compromising your hydration levels.
- Relaxation: Rooibos tea is naturally caffeine-free and contains the compound aspalathin, which has been shown to have a calming effect on the body. This makes rooibos tea an excellent choice for those looking to unwind and relax before bed or after a stressful day.
- Skincare: Rooibos tea is rich in antioxidants, which help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. In addition it contains Alpha hydroxy acid which is not commonly found in foods and helps to reduce wrinkles. In a clinical study, a formula of tea and rooibos demonstrated almost a 10 percent improvement in the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Rooibos tea contains superoxide dismutase, which has anti-aging properties and helps to slow down the development of wrinkles. This enzyme works to produce healthy skin cells that keep you looking young longer. It also works alongside other antioxidants in rooibos tea to fight free radicals that can accelerate the aging process. While more research is needed, there is evidence that drinking a cup or two of rooibos tea per day can keep skin looking even and youthful. Rooibos tea offers a soothing effect, thereby reducing irritation and redness resulting in more even-toned skin. Rooibos tea also contains zinc, which has shown potential to help treat common skin conditions such as eczema and acne.
- Reduce Inflammation: Drinking Rooibos tea can also help reduce inflammation and promote healthy blood flow, which can improve the appearance and texture of the skin.
- Allergies: Rooibos tea contains compounds that can help reduce histamine levels in the body, which can make it beneficial for those who suffer from allergies or hay fever. By drinking rooibos tea regularly, you may be able to reduce your symptoms and breathe easier during allergy season.
- Weight loss: While Rooibos tea is not a magic weight loss solution, it can be a helpful addition to a healthy diet and exercise routine. Rooibos tea contains compounds that have been shown to promote fat metabolism and reduce the absorption of dietary fat, which can make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. One cup of rooibos tea contains 4 calories. Adding sugar, honey or other sweeteners can rack up the calorie count, so keep additions to a minimum if your goal is to lose weight. In addition to these non-traditional advantages, rooibos tea is also used medicinally to treat a variety of ailments.
Traditional Medicinal Uses of Rooibos Tea Include:
- Digestive health: Rooibos tea has been used traditionally to treat a variety of digestive ailments, including indigestion, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. One study shows that compounds such as quercetin, orientin and vitexin helped to relax the digestive system.
- Respiratory health: Rooibos tea has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may make it beneficial for those with respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.
- Heart health: One study found that the aspalathin in Rooibos is credited with managing the symptoms of diabetes and could prevent cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Aspalathin decreases the risk of hypertension through hormone regulation.
- Diabetes management: Drinking Rooibos tea may help to keep diabetes in check or to prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. An animal study showed that polyphenols in Rooibos tea can regulate blood sugar levels and increase glucose tolerance in diabetic mice. Even if Rooibos tea won’t cure diabetes, it can decrease insulin resistance and improve symptoms.
- Anti Inflammatory: Anti Inflammatory properties helpful in Arthritis and Dysmenorrhea. Anti-spasmodic compounds in rooibos tea can also help to alleviate abdominal pain such as stomach cramps by activating potassium ions throughout the body. By reducing inflammation, rooibos tea can aid in treating the painful symptoms of arthritis. Rooibos tea is high in vitamin C, which further helps to repair collagen and connective tissue in the joints.
- Bone Density: Bone density is increased due to the calcium, manganese and fluoride in this tea. The additional flavonoids luteolin and orientin, contained in Rooibos increase mineral content in bones.
- Anti Histamine properties: Rooibos contains a bioactive flavonoid known as chrysoeriol, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and works as a bronchodilator helping relieve the feelings of wheezing and coughing caused by allergic rhinitis and asthma. Another flavonoid called Quercetin helps to prevent allergies from being triggered in the first place. Quercetin essentially blocks mast cells, which are responsible for releasing histamine, the main element that triggers an allergic response
Whether you’re looking to stay hydrated, relax, improve your skin health, or manage a specific health condition, Rooibos tea is a great beverage choice that offers a wide range of benefits. As with any herbal supplement or remedy, it’s always a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before using rooibos tea medicinally.