What is Rooibos Tea
Rooibos tea pronounced as” Roy-bos” in English, also known as red bush tea, or red tea is a popular herbal decoction made from the leaves of the Rooibos plant (Aspalathus linearis). The red, as well as green rooibos teas are immensely beneficial; where the former is fermented, the latter is unfermented, also having a lighter hue and mild flavor. The red tea has gained popularity worldwide because of its sweet, fruity, refreshing taste and innumerable health benefits.
History and origin
A lot of botanists and travelers visiting the mountainous belt of Cederberg in South Africa during the 17th and 18th centuries realized that the region had a lot of useful plants that could serve as a cure to several ailments. Later in 1772, Carl Thunberg, a Swedish botanist, noticed that the natives of this region would climb the mountains to obtain the fine leaves, so they could make the tea with the chopped and dried leaves. It was further popularized by the Dutch settlers who used it as a substitute for black tea. Russian settler Benjamin Ginsberg began marketing this herbal infusion as “Mountain Tea”.
This tea has been exported to a lot of countries including England, Germany, America, Switzerland and so on.
Does rooibos tea have caffeine
Rooibos tea does not have caffeine at all, thereby acting as a great stress reliever by lowering the production of cortisol (stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland), making our body adaptive to stress. Being devoid of caffeine, it is also very useful for insomnia patients, helping them to get a good sleep.
Rooibos tea health benefits: What is it good for
Strengthening bones: Being rich in magnesium, calcium, and fluoride, rooibos tea helps in maintaining strong bones, lessening the possibilities of osteoporosis, joint pain, and arthritis.
Helps in weight loss: This calorie-free herbal tea facilitates in breaking down the loose fat cells present in our body, thereby contributing to weight loss.
Anti-diabetic properties: Animal studies have proved that the presence of the antioxidant, aspalathin in rooibos tea has a positive impact on glucose homeostasis in Type 2 diabetes. It regulates the sugar level by helping muscle cells to use the glucose in a proper way, also stimulating the secretion of insulin from the pancreatic beta-cells.
Useful for respiratory disorders: The presence of chrysoeriol (an antioxidant), makes it a good bronchodilator, reducing the possibilities of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and heart attack, as well as respiratory disorders like asthma.
Good for the liver: Studies conducted on rats have shown its hepatoprotective properties, thus helping to prevent liver damage. In fact, it helps regenerating the damaged liver tissues, thereby maintaining a good liver health, also being beneficial for patients with hepatopathy (damaged liver).
Reduces high blood pressure: Presence of the flavonoid, quercetin, gives this tea a hypotensive effect, making it useful in reducing high blood pressure. If you are already on medication for hypertension, consult your doctor before drinking this tea.
Helpful for allergies: Japanese researchers have mentioned that this tea helps in improving the production of an enzyme cytochrome 450, which is useful in metabolizing allergens. Thus, drinking this red tea lessens the possibility of allergic reactions, also providing relief from hay fever and runny nose. Because of its power to fight allergies, many stores sell it in the name of “Herbal Allergy Tea”.
Antispasmodic properties: Its antispasmodic property makes it effective in reducing muscular spasms and abdominal pain. It also ensures a healthy digestive system by relaxing the muscles in the gut, thereby preventing intestinal disorders and diarrhea.
A good laxative: It acts as a mild laxative, thereby being very useful for people suffering from constipation, also minimizing the chances of several bowel disorders.
Effective antioxidant: Presence of strong antioxidants like flavonoid and Vitamin C helps in protecting from free radicals, thereby contributing towards maintaining a healthy immune system, also slowing the aging process.
Cancer preventive properties: The anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic properties of polyphenol present in this tea makes it effective in cancer prevention. Several studies and research have shown that the infusion of rooibos has the capacity of preventing a damaged DNA cell from becoming malignant. It can even control the multiplication of already present cancerous tissues. Mainly known to be beneficial for skin and liver cancer, the unfermented tea is more effective than the fermented ones.
Good for the stomach: The anti-inflammatory properties present in the tea help in relieving stomach inflammation, vomiting, heartburn (acidity) and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Soothes colic in babies: This herbal infusion was popularly used in South Africa to treat colicky and fussy babies, reducing their stomach pain, helping them to sleep peacefully. Though this decoction can be added to their formula milk or mixed with breast milk, it is always safe to consult a pediatrician before introducing anything new to your baby’s diet.
Other benefits of red rooibos tea
Good for skin: Drinking this tea or applying it topically ensures good skin health because of the presence of alpha hydroxyl acid and zinc. In fact, a face pack or compress of cold or lukewarm rooibos tea helps in relieving acne, rashes, itching, sunburn, allergies and other dermatological problems. People suffering from eczema can apply a solution made from this tea using a cotton ball to get relief.
Beneficial for hair: It acts as a good hair conditioner, helping in increasing hair growth as well as lessening the possibilities of hair loss. Being very useful for redheads, applying it as a dye or shampoo helps in maintaining good, shiny hair.
Used as an eye pack: Applying cold tea bags of red tea over the eyes or wiping them gently with a fresh cloth dipped in the lukewarm infusion provides relief from red, sore or itchy eyes.
For diaper rash: Putting cold tea bags gently on the areas of nappy rash or adding this decoction in the baby’s bath water will be very useful.
How to make rooibos tea
Given below are the instructions for brewing red rooibos tea:
- Boil water in a container
- Take about one teaspoon of leaves for one cup of water.
- If using loose leaf tea, one to two teaspoons may be added, whereas one tea bag per cup would be fine.
- Pour the water over the leaves.
- Let it steep for about five minutes.
- Strain the tea.
- You may add sugar, honey and milk for taste.
- For iced tea, keep the strained infusion in the refrigerator for an hour to cool before serving with ice cubes.
Rooibos tea safety and precautions
Certain estrogenic activities have been observed in this tea. Therefore patients with hormone-sensitive cancers (breast cancer) should be cautious regarding the consumption of this tea. Its antioxidant properties may come in the way of certain drugs used for chemotherapy. If you are suffering from cancer or any liver or kidney ailments consult a medical practitioner before consuming this tea.
Over consumption may result in headaches also causing harm to the kidney and liver.
Is rooibos tea safe during pregnancy
Because of its caffeine-free, tannin-free and antioxidant properties, rooibos tea is said to be a good option during pregnancy. However, it is always safe to consult your gynecologist to avoid any risks.
Though this herbal tea is known for increasing milk supply, nursing mothers should refer to their health care provider to make sure that the tea does not hamper the health of their breastfeeding babies.
Where to buy rooibos tea
You can buy the green or red rooibos tea online or in any stores selling herbal teas. There are a lot of variations of this tea like vanilla rooibos tea (mixed with the flavor of sweet vanilla), organic tea and a spiced tea (rooibos chai).
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