South African red tea, the fermented leaf of the rooibos plant (Aspalathus linearis) that only grows in the Cape region, has become one of the most popular teas in America. Like black tea leaves, rooibos needles start a natural oxygenation process upon harvest, called fermentation, that changes the green needles to a deep reddish brown.
Imparting a slightly sweet, earthy or woodsy flavor upon brewing, rooibos tea with its beautiful deep red color in the cup is considered full-bodied rather than light and floral like so many herbal teas. It is the only herbal tea that has the depth of flavor to combine well with milk.
Rooibos makes a great base tea to carry other flavors like spice, fruit or floral accents. Many tea drinkers find naturally caffeine-free rooibos tea makes a satisfying replacement for black or green tea.
Health benefits of rooibos tea
Rooibos is famed for a number of health benefits that the South Africans have studied extensively. First, it contains a unique flavonoid antioxidant, aspalathin, found nowhere else in nature as well as other more common flavonoid compounds like quercetin, luteolin, and orientin.
Rooibos grows in mineral-rich soil high in the Cape’s arid plains. Its long taproot draws up calcium, iron, copper, zinc and manganese into its needles. South African scientists have found rooibos tea has many phytonutrients that exert their protective effects on our hearts, our DNA, our livers, and skin. All this in a delicious tasting cup of red tea!
The caffeine-free alternative to green and black teas
Red tea has become the best known alternative to black and green tea for tea drinkers who want all the benefits of multiple antioxidants without any caffeine. We highly recommend drinking rooibos, the red tea, over decaffeinated black or green tea, so you get all of the health benefits nature intended without any processing that diminishes them.
You’ll find a large selection of red teas featured on this site that were designed by Caroline MacDougall for top tea companies. If you haven’t yet tried rooibos tea, check out our most popular red teas for recommendations on which ones might appeal to you.