Move over, green tea! There’s a new tea on the block that has gained steady popularity in the last few years thanks to its host of health benefits sans caffeine rush. Rooibos tea (pronounced roy-boss) is an herbal tea brewed from the needle-like leaves of a plant grown only in a small region of South Africa. Also known as red tea, rooibos produces a deep reddish brown color when steeped. The flavor is definitely unusual; mellow, earthy, and slightly reminiscent of tobacco. Relatively new to the scene in the Western world, rooibos is gaining notoriety among the health-conscious for some pretty good reasons:
– It’s caffeine free. Rooibos tea is completely caffeine free, which makes it a great choice for a relaxing beverage before bedtime. Skip the coffee or green tea for rooibos in the morning if you want to start the day off with calm rather than a caffeine crash.
– It may help prevent cancer. Packed with antioxidants, red tea is said to have 50% more antioxidants than green tea.
– It’s heart healthy. Rooibos is rich in the powerful antioxidant called quercetin. Quercetin is anti-inflammatory and promotes good cholesterol while inhibiting the bad, making it added protection against heart disease.
– It’s anti-spasmodic. Traditionally used in South Africa to treat colicky infants, red tea eases stomach cramping and soothes abdominal pain.
Mild and refreshing, rooibos tea can be sweetened or unsweetened. Typically, it is mixed with milk and sugar like regular black tea, but there are tons of other ways to drink rooibos that are a little more exciting. Try pairing rooibos with lemonade, or make a “Cape Town Fog” (a twist on the London Fog). In the morning, I like to use rooibos tea as the base for a breakfast smoothie.
Rooibos Breakfast Smoothie
– 2 cups strongly brewed rooibos tea
– 1 cup crushed ice
– 6 oz vanilla soy yogurt
– 1 frozen banana
– A splash of chai concentrate
– A sprinkle of cinnamon to taste
Rooibos also pairs well with citrus flavors. Try making a batch of refreshing iced rooibos with orange slices for a thirst quenching summery treat. Enjoy!
More in healthy teas: How to Take Tea to Next Level with Herbal Steeping
Also by Sarah: How to Make Candied Orange Peels
Photo: Gloria Garcia via Flickr; Mr. TinDC via Flickr