In our health conscious times, people are always looking for new and exciting drinks and foods. Green tea has already become a preferred choice for many but another tea with its own unique taste but with similar health benefits is now widely available and comes from one particular area of South Africa.
This tea has the official name of Rooibos, its latin name being aspalathus linearis and is a unique shrub land plant native to Western Cape province of South Africa, an area more commonly known as a wine growing region. This region has both coastal and mountainous areas and has a Mediterranean climate which the rooibos or honey honeybush plants thrive.
The Rooibos plant is also known in South Africa as Bush tea plant and the tea produced is commonly referred to as South African red tea, or just red tea. Rooibos in native Afrikaans language means red bush because of its distinctive colour. It's been popular within the country for generations, but hasn't been widely known about outside of South Arica or exported around the world until quite recently.
Traditional South African medicines have used parts of the Rooibos plant as a treatment for infantile colic and allergies, including asthma and general dermatological ailments which are still generally accepted as working even today.
The Rooibos plant has been written about by early European travellers and botanists who witnessed the plant been used for its medicinal properties by native healers and reported back in their journals.
One of the key reasons for the increased popularity of Rooibos among health conscious consumers is because of its high levels of antioxidant, mainly aspalathin and nothofagin, as well as containing a number of phenolic compounds which include favanols, favones, flavanones and dihydrochalcones, all health promoting compounds.
Rooibos is naturally caffeine free and it has extremely low tannin levels, compared to fully oxidized black tea and even unoxidized green tea leaves.
The general method for production of Rooibos leaves is for them to be oxidized which is the reason for the teas distinctive reddish-brown colour of Rooibos and this is believed to further enhance its flavour.
The unoxidized "green" Rooibos can also be produced and uses methods of production quite similar to traditional green tea production. This produces an end product which results in a more distinctive malty and almost grassy flavour to it which is quite different to its red counterpart.
To enjoy Rooibos at its best, it is always wise to make sure you can see the leaves, whether in bags or as loose tea as these will produce a much more rounded and more representative flavour than the dusty bags that can be seen in some product offerings.
You can now buy red or, rooibos tea as it is also known as, online and you can also find some the best green teas available.