Unlike other teas, Red Rooibos tea comes from Aspalathus linearis, a small shrubby bush that grows to a height of half to one meter, and is found only in South Africa. All other teas come from Camellia sinensis.
Rooibos, which means red bush in African, is a very delicate plant and needs special care. Ideally, it should be left alone in its natural soil if it is to grow well. The bush has very thin, needle-like green leaves, which turn red after fermentation.
The Rooibos plant produces very few seeds, which are hence considered precious. These seeds pop out of the fruits on ripening, and hence it is difficult to harvest them. Some farmers actually go to the extent of raiding anthills just to look for Rooibos seeds.
The locals have always been aware of the fact that Rooibos leaves can be used to make a very delicious beverage. The world, however, came to know about it only when it was 'discovered' in 1904 by a Russian immigrant named Benjamin Ginsberg who was a settler in the area. He liked the taste of this tea so much that he decided to make this tea available to the whole world, and started selling it commercially.
Rooibos tea has a distinctive red color, a very sweet taste and a slightly nutty flavor. It has numerous health benefits, which combined with its delicious taste has helped Rooibos become a very popular tea all over the world.
The biggest advantage that Rooibos has is that its leaves have no caffeine and very low tannin. The tea can therefore be enjoyed all day long without any unwanted side effects. Even pregnant women and nursing mothers can use this tea without being worried about side-effects..
The other benefits of Rooibos tea are as follows:
-- It eases irritability, headaches, nervous tension and insomnia.
-- It acts as an anti-spasmodic agent and relieves stomach cramps and colic in infants
-- It can be used to treat hay fever, asthma and eczema.
-- If placed directly, it can slow the ageing process of the skin
- It boosts the immune system
-- People prone to kidney stones can safely consume it because it does not contain oxalic acid.
-- The presence of copper, iron, potassium, calcium, fluorides, zinc, manganese and magnesium makes it a useful nutritional supplement.