Rooibos, which means “red bush” in Afrikaans, is a plant that has been used to make tea for hundreds of years. This herbal tea uses leaves from the Aspalathus linearis, a type of shrub found in South Africa.
When the leaves are fermented, they turn reddish-brown, giving rooibos tea its reddish glow and its names: red tea or red bush tea.
Along with traditional red tea, there is also a green rooibos tea made with unfermented leaves. Rooibos tea has a sweet and earthy flavor, with notes of vanilla and smokiness. It can be enjoyed on its own, with milk or sugar, hot or iced, or in lattes.
What Are the Benefits of Rooibos?
The rooibos tea leaves hold a number of nourishing minerals, vitamins, and plant compounds known as polyphenols that can support the body in several ways.
You can enjoy rooibos tea jitter-free, as this tea contains no caffeine. There are also fewer tannins in rooibos tea than in many other teas available, which are compounds that can suppress the absorption of certain nutrients, such as iron.
Despite not having any caffeine content, the red bush tea can still serve as a restorative and energy-boosting tea as its polyphenols can help elevate the mood and increase focus.
Supports Heart Health
The natural bioactive compounds in rooibos tea can support healthy heart function by affecting cholesterol, blood pressure, and oxidative stress.
One study found that participants who drank six cups of red tea per day for six weeks showed lower LDL cholesterol–which is associated with plaque buildup in the arteries that can interfere with blood and oxygen flow–along with an increase in beneficial HDL cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol can help carry cholesterol to the liver, where it is then broken down and flushed out of the body, keeping it from building around the heart.
Another potential heart-helping benefit of rooibos tea is its ability to block angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE). ACE can cause the blood vessels to contract, so rooibos tea can help support healthy blood pressure.
Rooibos tea is packed with antioxidants, which may help maintain skin health and prevent oxidative stress in the body by combating free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can wreak havoc on the body by attacking healthy cells. While some free radicals are naturally released during metabolic function, pollutants such as car exhaust or smoke can increase the amount of free radicals within. when our bodies come into contact with harmful stressors such as car pollution or smoke.
Free radicals oxidize the cells they attack, which can lead to oxidative stress over time. However, antioxidants can protect cells and limit the harmful effects of oxidative stress by stabilizing free radicals, which keeps them from attacking our cells.
The main antioxidants found in rooibos tea are quercetin and aspalathin. Current studies suggest that green rooibos tea contains even more antioxidants than traditional red tea.
Supports Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
The antioxidant aspalathin found in rooibos tea may also help maintain blood sugar levels. Studies suggest this compound may work within the body to support insulin secretion, which could be particularly beneficial for anyone with diabetes.
Nourishes The Skin
Rooibos tea can support the body inside and out. When free radicals attack skin cells, it can lead to wrinkles, lines, and blemishes. This is especially true as we age, as our bodies become less capable of warding off free radicals on their own. But by helping protect skin cells, the antioxidants in rooibos can limit signs of aging in the skin.
The zinc found in rooibos can also help relieve dry and irritated skin. Studies have seen promising results when rooibos tea is applied topically as part of a lotion. You can even apply cooled rooibos tea directly to the skin to help soothe irritations and tend to blemishes.
The polyphenols within rooibos tea can provide relief throughout the body. The anti-swelling properties of antioxidants can help ease discomfort, such as swollen joints.
Supports Healthy Bones
Rooibos tea’s mineral makeup can benefit your bone health. The calcium, mangagese, and fluoride found within the red bush leafs all play a part in building strong bone mass.
Rooibos tea also contains two flavonoids less commonly found in other teas: luteolin and orientin. These compounds are thought to help increase healthy mineral content in the bones.
If you are often plagued with a sour stomach, a cup of rooibos tea may be just what you need.
A number of compounds within rooibos are considered antispasmodic, meaning they can help ease muscle spasms. This is particularly beneficial within the digestive tract, where uncontrolled muscle movement in the stomach can lead to nausea or cramps.
When the quercetin, orientin, and vitexin found in rooibos tea enter the body, they can help relax stomach muscles and ease discomfort.
Do Rooibos Have Any Potential Side Effects?
Rooibos is considered very safe for consumption, with little risk of side effects. However, there is a chance of adverse reactions if you have an allergy to rooibos or consume in extremely large amounts each day.
In rare cases, consuming large amounts of rooibos tea each day may lead to liver damage over time. The compounds in rooibos tea may also trigger estrogen production when over-consumed. While this side effect is often mild and harmless, it is likely best to avoid rooibos tea if you have an estrogen-related condition such as breast cancer.
While uncommon, it is possible to be allergic to the rooibos shrub. Those with allergies may experience heart palpitations, stomach discomfort, or difficulty swallowing, or swelling after drinking rooibos tea or applying it topically. If you are experiencing signs of an allergic reaction, seek medical attention right away.
Because rooibos tea may affect the liver and estrogen production over time, it is best to speak with your doctor if you take any medications that affect your liver or hormone levels before adding rooibos to your daily routine.
How Should I Use Rooibos?
As a revitalizing, caffeine-free drink, rooibos tea can be enjoyed morning or night. To best avoid any potential side effects, we recommend sticking to one or two cups of red tea a day.
How Long Does It Take To See Benefits?
This restorative tea will quickly get to work soothing discomfort and inspiring your mind as the compounds and minerals are absorbed into the body.
If using rooibos tea to nourish the skin, it will take a little longer to see the benefits. In one study, participants applied a rooibos tea gel daily for 28 days to see a reduction in lines and wrinkles.
The Bottom Line
A cup of wonderfully red rooibos tea can help freshen the mind and benefit the body, no matter when you drink it.
Here at The Brothers Apothecary, we love incorporating herbal teas into our wellness routine. We craft our Cosmic Cleanse CBD Tea with red rooibos to help boost digestion, inspire the mind, and soothe the spirit.
You can find Cosmic Cleanse, along with our wide array of calming CBD teas, at The Brothers Apothecary shop!
Jesse Richardson is the co-founder of The Brothers Apothecary. He's an avid tea drinker and the primary creator behind The Brothers' products. An undergraduate of UCLA for Political Science, Jesse currently studies Medicinal Plants at Cornell University and The International School of Herbal Arts & Sciences.