What Are The Benefits of Rooibos Tea?


Benefits of Rooibos Tea

Like just about every beverage consumed by adults, the very first time you drank tea you probably didn’t like it. Without all the sugar or added ingredients of kid desired juice and sodas, teas just couldn’t cut it ( you might have felt the same way the first time you tried everything from coffee to beer).

But, like just about anything you end up doing in life, it takes some getting use to, but eventually, you come to enjoy it. Tea is one of the great beverages of the world.

Similar to coffee in that the flavor is extracted from steeping with ground plant life, tea comes with some excellent health benefits as well. Green tea tends to take all the attention when it comes to health benefits, but there are plenty of other options, including rooibos.

What exactly is rooibos tea and how can it improve your health though?

We’ve got your answers covered right here.

What is Rooibos?

In order to understand the health benefits of rooibos tea, it is necessary to understand what, exactly, it is. 

After all, you probably don’t go to the grocery store, hoping to find a fresh batch of rooibos for that dinner party you’re throwing. Rooibos (which is an Afrikaans word that means red bush) and comes out of South Africa. It is almost exclusively a plant located in the Western Cape of South Africa.

This is due to the large amount of rainfall the region receives during the winter months, yet having a near Mediterranean climate throughout the rest of the year. With the unique climate, there are a host of other plants only found in this area of the world.

The plant itself doesn’t have much of a red color to it. It grows in thin, light brownish-yellow stalks with yellow flowers and short, green leaves. The leaves are removed from the plant, which is used for the rooibos tea. The leaves are then oxidized in order to help it dry and gain the reddish-brown color.

This oxidation also helps with giving it a more pronounced flavor (although green rooibos tea is starting to become more popular, despite it being more expensive due to the shorter harvesting time).

Why Does My Rooibos Tea Have a Grade on It?

If you look closely on some boxes of rooibos tea, you’ll notice there is a grade marking on it. 

This is a bit more distinct than some other teas you’ll find on the market. This has to do with the percentage of leaves to stems in the mix. As the leaves are nearly the same thickness as the stems, separating the two is not as easy as other teas.

When consuming the tea in the United States and Europe, you’ll likely only have a high grade. In fact, the high-grade rooibos tea isn’t available in local markets of South Africa because the beverage can fetch a much higher price tag in other areas of the world (this is not a unique practice just to rooibos tea, as coffees and wines in many regions, such as South America, are often all exported out due to the increased monetary value).

History Of Rooibos Tea

History Of Rooibos Tea

When it comes to tea, you probably always think of either green, black or long islands.

As this is a health post we won’t go into long islands, but green and black teas have been around for thousands of years. Rooibos teas did not become a thing, at least to the Western world, until much more recently.

Throughout much of Africa’s history, the continent had been under colonized rule from European powers. During the 1700s, Dutch settlers began drinking the local tea simply because black tea and other tea offers shipped in from Europe was a luxury item due to the cost of shipment.

However, at the time, even the local rooibos tea was difficult to produce as the germination process of the tea was different from that of traditional tea leaves, making commercial production next to impossible (Rooibois Tea History, 2012).

Flash forward 150 years to the early 1900s and researchers identified a traditional Chinese method of making tea in barrels in order to force germinate the rooibos seeds. The production process still required adjustment though and took nearly three decades to identify an actual method of production that could work commercially.

Eventually, by the time the Second World War ended, rooibos tea started to appear in areas around the world.

So while tea drinkers were able to enjoy green and black teas for centuries around the world, rooibos tea only become a viable consumer option until almost 1950 (the name rooibos itself didn’t even become a trademarked name for the tea until the early 1990s) (American Herbal Production Association, 2015).

Is Rooibos Tea Endangered?

The increase in the earth’s temperature has caused some weather shifts around the globe.

While climbing temperatures in certain regions have garnished the majority of attention and melting polar caps also make headlines, other, smaller issues often go unnoticed. This includes a possible problem with rooibos tea.

The rooibos plant can only be grown off of the Western Cape province in South Africa.

Attempts to grow the plant in similar regions, ranging from Australia to the United States have all failed. Due to this, changes to the climate in Western Cape may pose a threat to the rooibos tea and tea production. In recent years, temperatures have increased in the region and rainfall has decreased. Some scientists do believe the plant may be completely extinct within the next century.

So, at least currently, you likely will not go without rooibos tea in your lifetime.

However, your children and your grandkids may not be so likely (News24, 2012).

Benefits of Rooibos Tea

The Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea

You really can’t go wrong with any kind of tea.  

As long as you avoid loading it up with creams, sugars or other fats, your body is going to thank you.

However, there are reasons why you should select a nice rooibos tea over other options out there the next time you see it.

For starters, Rooibos tea is rich in calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, zinc and antioxidants. If you suffer from kidney stones, there is no oxalic acid in it, so it is perfectly safe to drink. Tea derived from the plant is anti-inflammatory, plus the higher levels of antioxidants make it an excellent beverage for preventing illness.

Rooibos is found to contain aspalathin, which is a form of antioxidants.

This is an immune system booster, which makes it one of the best teas to consume when you want to safeguard your body from external illness.

Teas derived from the rooibos plant act as a bronchodilator. This means it helps relieve respiratory problems. At the same time though, it also can help reduce blood pressure, which is excellent if you or your family have a history of heart disease or strokes (which is another benefit of the beverage not containing any caffeine).

Many teas contain some form of caffeine. While generally nowhere near what coffee contains, it can be difficult to find a “caffeine free” tea.  Rooibos is one such tea. So, if you’ve been searching for a particular tea that doesn’t come with any caffeine at all, this is the way to go.

As the tea does contain a healthy amount of calcium, it is excellent for your bones.

A large portion of Americans do not receive their recommended level of calcium, so finding alternative ways to increase calcium intake is very important. Rooibos also contains both fluoride and manganese, which help both with help with bone and teeth health. This makes the tea an excellent beverage of choice for anyone who suffers from joint pain.

Earlier we mentioned tea from the rooibos plant contains asplathin. This antioxidant can help your body balance out blood sugar levels and also boost insulin resistance, in addition, to boost insulin secretion and glucose absorption by your muscles. This makes it a must beverage if you suffer from diabetes (Organic Facts, 2017).

Non-Scientific Backed Benefits

If you have ever gone into a traditional Chinese massage and health clinic, the locations offer a host of services not specifically backed by the FDA or other medical services.

However, that does not mean these treatment methods are without merit.

There is something to be said about treatments that have existed for thousands of years. Many patients swear by acupuncture, despite no concrete proof behind how it improves the body. Others will say cupping can help with blood circulation while removing toxins from the body. Most regions of the world have different kinds of treatments used before medical science moved in and pushed everything else aside. The same is true with rooibos tea.

Residents of South Africa have, for hundreds of years, used rooibos tea as ways to treat different health conditions. So while these health conditions and treatments have not been proven as fact by the FDA, it is still worth mentioning as a potential health benefit.

Throughout the region of South Africa where the rooibos plant grows, it has been used as a method of treating allergies such as hay fever, eczema, and bronchitis caused by allergies.

Due to the anti-inflammation properties found within the tea, its ability to reduce these symptoms in addition to reducing the chance of suffering from asthma attacks does have some justifiable merit.

Additionally, due to the antioxidants found in the tea, many believe it helps with premature aging due to its ability to boost the immune system. (Organic Facts, 2017).

Are There Downsides to Rooibos Tea?

With all the health benefits of rooibos tea, you may assume it is a great drink for everyone.

That almost is true, but in some situations, you should avoid it all together (or at the very least, talk with your doctor about it). Rooibos is an extremely powerful beverage and can interfere with some hormone-sensitive forms of cancer, such as prostate and breast cancer. If you currently suffer from kidney or liver problems, rooibos tea may not be a beverage you should drink either.

Before adding any kind of beverage to your diet, if you have serious health problems, it is always important to discuss these dietary changes, including teas, with primary care physicians (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2005).

So Who Should Drink Rooibos Tea

So Who Should Drink Rooibos Tea?

Do you suffer from any of the health problems mentioned above?

If not, you should consider adding this tea to your daily diet. You likely could benefit from an increase in antioxidants in the diet. Plus, with the added calcium it is a perfect addition, especially if you have joint pain.

If you notice pain in your knees after lifting, try drinking this tea. Now it is not a cure for excessive problems within the knees and other joints, but it may help strengthen the bones in your joints that do hurt. It is also a great beverage to drink to help boost your immune system. This is perfect if you work in an area with a lot of people (such as a school).

If you’re planning a trip, you should start boosting your immune system as well in order to help safeguard against sickness (there really is nothing worse than getting the airplane crud from another passenger thanks to the re-circulated air flowing through the plane. So when possible, take your health to the next level with rooibos tea.

If you’re planning a trip, you should start boosting your immune system as well in order to help safeguard against sickness (there really is nothing worse than getting the airplane crud from another passenger thanks to the re-circulated air flowing through the plane. So when possible, take your health to the next level with rooibos tea.

So when possible, take your health to the next level with rooibos tea.

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Tea consumption is a great way to stay healthy while also giving your taste buds a bit of a change from what you normally drink.

Drinking tea throughout the day is like adding additional health benefits to your water, so don’t feel bad about asking for the second cup of tea. So, the next time you’re out at the restaurant or cruising down the coffee and tea row while shopping, make sure to grab a box or two of rooibos tea.

You’ll be doing your body good. 

-Terry Asher

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Terry Asher

Owner & Founder at Gym Junkies LLC
After changing his best friend’s life by helping him lose over 70lbs, dropping him down to an amazing 7% body fat, Terry was inspired to be a full-time internet trainer knowing he could do the same for many more. In 2010, Terry published his own diet and fitness e-book that can be purchased on this website. Let Terry help you change your body for the better!
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