Native to the western cape of the South African, Rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) has long been the national drink. Rooibos does not contain caffeine, is high in antioxidants, and has a trove of vitamins and minerals. Its great taste, unique color, and health benefits make it a wildly popular worldwide phenomenon. Its medicinal attributes have been confirmed by the US Department of Agriculture, which has affirmed that red rooibos tea is capable of reducing cancer, heart diseases, premature aging, and other serious conditions.
History of Rooibos
From time immemorial, indigenous inhabitants of the mountainous regions of South Africa’s Western Cape collected wild rooibos and use it to make tea. They discovered that rooibos leaves could brew a sweet, tasty tea after being cut, bruised with wooden hammers, fermented in heaps, and then sun-dried for hours. The fermentation turns the leaves into a rich orange/red color. This distinctive color led to the Afrikaans to name the tea rooibos, which means “red bush.” Dutch Colonizers first recorded rooibos plants in 1772 when they were introduced to the tea by the Khoi people.
Rooibos became a cultivated crop and grown commercially since World War II. The quantity of rooibos exported in 2000 was two and a half times greater than the quantity exported in 1999, with exports continue to grow. Currently, the red tea is exported worldwide, including Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, England, Malaysia, South Korea, Poland, China, and the United States.
Health Benefits of Rooibos
According to WebMD, rooibos is said to have 50% more antioxidants than that found in green tea. The antioxidants found in rooibos are known as flavonoids. Of the 10 flavonoids measured, rooibos is the only known natural source of the flavonoid aspalathin. Aspalathin has been found to help protect against cardiovascular disease, often as a result of diabetes. Another flavonoid, Nothofagin has only been identified in one other natural source besides rooibos. Nothofagin helps to improve the immune system and is said to reduce Alzheimer’s disease as well. Aside from helping you look and feel younger by slowing down the aging process, rooibos also assists with improved recovery after exercise. Another amazing health benefit of this wonder drink is as an anti-spasmodic agent, which reduces stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
For optimal health benefits, Proffesor Christo Muller, Chief Specialist Scientist at the SA Medical Research Council recommends drinking between five and six cups of rooibos tea staggered throughout the day. Alternatively, put a jug of freshly made cooled rooibos tea in the fridge, or pour the iced tea into a sports bottle to ensure you get your daily dose.