Last Updated on 27 May 2022 by Alisea Mae
Herbal teas are a staple part of many diets and have a varied amount of health benefits. What about rooibos tea, however? Here are the lesser-known benefits of this versatile drink, including its origins and how to serve it.
As an avid tea drinker, I’ve been making the switch from caffeinated black tea to more herbal options throughout the day. After discovering red bush tea, I delved into the facts online and compiled a list of the key things I found to share with you.
Where does red bush tea come from?
Red bush tea is also known as rooibos tea and comes from the aspalathus linearis shrub grown on the western coast of South Africa. Some producers can grow the same shrub and harvest the tea in similar climates, but the best rooibos tea comes from South Africa. Any brand that uses a different form of shrub in their product should be transparent about the origin of the tea and any additional ingredients used. Otherwise, you could end up with something that isn’t 100% pure red bush but is still sold as such.
Many people celebrate this beverage for its colour, lack of tannins and absence of caffeine. Yet the advantages go much further than that. Read on to find out the 9 nutritional and health benefits of red bush tea.
Nutritional benefits of red bush tea
We often associate antioxidants with green tea because of the lack of processing and the high levels of compounds in the leaves. However, there are also high levels of polyphenol antioxidants in rooibos tea. This substance is great for reducing inflammation, which can then have a positive impact on lowering the risk of chronic illness and even cancer. So, if you love the idea of antioxidant-rich green tea but hate the taste, red bush teas could be the perfect mid-way point between green and black in terms of the experience and benefits.
One of the problems with drinking teas or coffee is that we have to be careful when we drink it. Ideally, we should save our more traditional black teas and coffee drinks for the morning, move on to decaffeinated options, and then go for something soothing and herbal. But, the temptation is to drink our favourite tea all day regardless of the potential effect on our sleep patterns. Switching to red bush tea gives us that increased freedom to drink as much as we want without those repercussions. A cosy drink at the end of an evening walk isn’t going to keep you up.
Low in tannins
Tannins are a common compound in both black and green tea. They also contribute to the discolouration of our mugs, which leads to questions over what they do to us on the inside. There are some benefits to tannins as they can act much like antioxidants and potentially help to reduce blood pressure. However, there are also concerns about the effect of tannins on the absorption of iron and other crucial minerals. There are also links to metabolic and digestion issues. So, red tea may be the better choice as there are still some tannins for positive effects but not so many to pose as much risk.
Health benefits of red bush tea
This tea is particularly helpful when dealing with hypertension and high blood pressure. This then has knock-on effects on heart health, reducing the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. A cup of this each day could help to regulate the cardiovascular system in ways drinkers may not have imagined. This is largely due to the antioxidants in the tea, such as quercetin. Quercetin is an effective agent that can help with blood circulation. It isn’t as common as some of the other components mentioned here, which makes this rooibos substance all the more impressive.
There are many herbal teas that can soothe an upset stomach. This tea is appealing as it has such strong properties. The anti-inflammatory properties have numerous positive effects on the body. Here they can reduce pain. Some South African mothers even use this tea as an aid for childhood colic. For adults, the antispasmodic components are ideal for any digestive distress. They can calm the activity of the stomach and intestines. This in turn helps with pain and diarrhoea.
This is an interesting consideration for those recently diagnosed or those considered to be pre-diabetic. There is an antioxidant called aspalathin that is shown to have anti-diabetic properties. It can help drinkers keep their blood sugar levels under control and reduce the risk of major complications. Regular consumption of red tea could prove to be a highly beneficial lifestyle change without having to do anything too drastic. Just one cup a day instead of a sugary drink or caffeinated beverage could make a big difference.
This is where that high antioxidant count comes into play once again. These components destroy damaging free radicals that can be detrimental to health, but that can also lead to premature ageing. Removal of free radicals can improve the quality of everything from organ function to hair. It also helps to strengthen the immune system. Another problem with old age is the decreased strength of bones and joints, with the added risk of arthritis and osteoporosis. This red rooibos tea contains good levels of calcium, manganese and fluoride. This can help to reduce this risk and actually repair existing damage.
Many tea drinkers will turn to rooibos over their more traditional choice as a healthy alternative. There are suggestions that drinking rooibos tea regularly can help you burn belly fat. The composition of the plant and treatment of the leaves leads to an effective stimulant for your metabolism – minus the caffeine stimulant. As a result, drinkers may burn fat and inhibit further fat deposits. However, it all depends on your diet and lifestyle. If you drink this with unhealthy junk food or decrease your exercise then it won’t be so effective.
So far, the majority of the benefits mentioned here have been internal. We drink the tea and allow it to work wonders with our cardiovascular system, digestive system and even our bones. Yet, there is potential for skincare too. Strong levels of hydroxy acid and zinc are great for skin complaints from acne to sunburn and pigmentation issues. As a result, some people now use red tea powder in natural cleansers and other skin treatments. Some people also use it as a more specific aid for allergic reactions and eczema.
The Ole Henriksen red tea foaming cleanser was reviewed by Karrie Stanfill on her youtube channel ‘Fashion Over 40’.
How to drink red bush tea?
The great thing about switching to red bush tea is that you don’t have to give up your preferred way of drinking your tea. If you like to sweeten your tea with sugar or honey then you can do so, although some may find that this is less bitter so need less sugar. This choice will also depend on the product, as some brands add honey to their teas. Then there is the choice to create a strong black brew or to add milk. Again, you can do either to taste. However, milk doesn’t go with the green rooibos blends as well as the red ones.
The bottom line
This guide deals with some of the most important red tea benefits that drinkers can enjoy. It highlights the breadth of its potential, but the advantages don’t end here. Redbush tea is healthier and more powerful than we first assume. Give it a try and see how it can help. Check out my other article on the best redbush teas by theme, with something for all tastes.