Rooibos comes from the South African shrub Aspalathus linearis and is a firm favourite for a tea, with its popularity growing worldwide. It has long been acknowledged for its health benefits and this is becoming even more evident given the increased research into the health associated properties of rooibos.
Why is rooibos deemed so great for us?
Here are a few of the main benefits of drinking rooibos compared to conventional black tea from the Camellia sinensis plant.
1. Naturally caffeine free
Although we know that caffeine has the benefits of increasing alertness, more research also suggests links between increased caffeine consumption and sleep disruption along with anxiety and stomach irritability. Rooibos is naturally caffeine free and is the South African plant the aspalathus linearis. Containing no caffeine, this means it does not require any intensive processing such as that seen with some black and green traditional tea blends that have undergone a decaffeination process using chemicals. Considering this and that both children and pregnant women are advised to limit caffeine consumption, having a great option such as rooibos available makes limiting caffeine much easier to handle. Not only this but caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it makes you produce urine so you pass more fluid which when not replaced is dehydrating, whereas a recent study in athletes showed that rooibos was as hydrating as water (1).
2. High in natural antioxidants
Animal model studies indicate rooibos possess potent antioxidants suggested to be important in immune system function and have anti-inflammatory properties as well as being a rare source of the dietary flavonoids; aspalathin and nothofagin (2). Rooibos is therefore thought to help regulate free radicals which themselves have been linked to damage of the body’s cellular DNA so therefore can help to control these molecules in the body. Further it was shown that boiling red rooibos gave the highest antioxidant capacity and polyphenol content correlating to antioxidant properties in the (3).
3. Low tannin content
Tannins are a group of bitter tasting compounds produced by plants and commonly found in both green and black teas. Tannins are able to interfere with the body’s natural absorption of iron which is vital to support red blood cell function in transporting oxygen around the body. Tannins also have a bitter taste, so their presence in traditional black tea leads to many people therefore feeling the need to add sugar to their drinks. Therefore the choice to consume rooibos will also likely benefit your waistline as it can be consumed without any artificial additive with this natural sweet and deep flavour. Also you have probably heard that tannins in tea can correlate to staining of your teeth, so again low tannin levels in rooibos can contribute to less staining!
4. Rooibos and disease research
A recent study has shown that in the disease osteoporosis where there is destruction of bone, rooibos tea extract suppressed the cells that drive this breakdown process allowing a beneficial effect on bone health (4).
1. Utter AC, Quindry JC, Emerenziani GP, Valiente JS. Effects of rooibos tea, bottled water, and a carbohydrate beverage on blood and urinary measures of hydration after acute dehydration. Res Sports Med. 2010;18(2):85-96.
2. McKay DL, Blumberg JB. A review of the bioactivity of South African herbal teas: rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia). Phytother Res. 2007;21(1):1-16.
3. Damiani E, Carloni P, Rocchetti G, Senizza B, Tiano L, Joubert E, et al. Impact of Cold versus Hot Brewing on the Phenolic Profile and Antioxidant Capacity of Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) Herbal Tea. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;8(10).
4. Moosa S, Kasonga AE, Deepak V, Marais S, Magoshi IB, Bester MJ, et al. Rooibos tea extracts inhibit osteoclast formation and activity through the attenuation of NF-κB activity in RAW264.7 murine macrophages. Food Funct. 2018;9(6):3301-12.