A Guide to Rooibos Tea
Ever wondered what exactly rooibos is… why it’s sometimes referred to as “red bush tea”… how it’s made? We’ve answered some common questions to give you the rundown on rooibos tea…
Did you know?
At first glance, Rooibos looks a little tricky to pronounce, but it's actually quite easy – other than the double "o", say it as you see it: "roy-bos".
What Is Rooibos Tea?
Rooibos isn’t technically a tea as it doesn’t contain any Camellia sinensis leaf; it’s a herbal infusion harvested from the rooibos bush – or should we say Aspalathus linearis if we’re talking in botanical terms. Grown exclusively on the South African Cederberg mountains, the rooibos bush is a modest 1–2m in height but its roots go as deep as 20m to reach water in the arid, red soil in which is grows.
So how did it come about? Local bushmen had passed down the secret of rooibos for generations, but when seventeenth-century Dutch settlers developed a taste for the smooth, treacle-toned drink as a handy substitute for tea, it started to gain global applaud.
How Is Rooibos Tea Made?
There are two types of rooibos: red and green. Red is the more common of the two, undergoing a similar process to black tea. The needle-shaped leaves are harvested, cut, crushed, oxidised and then dried in the sun, giving rooibos its distinctive reddish-brown colour (hence the name “red bush tea”) and malty flavour.
Green rooibos undergoes a process more like green tea: the leaves are heated to prevent oxidation, achieving that same fresh, verdant taste profile. You’ll find this unusual “green” rooibos in our Rainforest Rooibos blend.
Is Rooibos Tea Caffeine-Free?
As with all our fruit and herbal infusions, except yerba mate, rooibos is naturally caffeine-free. So, if you’re simply looking for something scrumptious to sip from dawn to dusk, or you’re avoiding caffeine, due to pregnancy for example, rooibos may be an option. (It’s worth bearing in mind that although we’re a whizz when it comes to tea – if we do say so ourselves – we’d always advise checking anything medical-related with your GP first.)
How Do You Brew Rooibos Tea?
As rooibos doesn’t contain tea, there’s no tannic bitterness associated with over brewing – how you infuse is largely up to you! We recommend using double quantities (around 2tsp per cup) and freshly drawn and boiled water, then brewing for at least 3 minutes to get the most flavour possible out of your cup. If desired, add a splash of milk – although we’d recommend drinking our Rainforest Rooibos without to allow the fresh, fruity flavours to shine through.
A Note From Our Tea Expert
“I love to mix our Blueberry Rooibos and Vanilla Honeybush for a delicious infusion that tastes like a Blueberry Muffin!”Katy, Tea Specialist
Find out more about Katy here