What is it: Rooibos (pronounced Roy-Boss), meaning Red bush, is a shrubby plant that looks much like a broom and belongs to the Fabaceae family of plants. The dried leaves of this bush-like plant are traditionally used to make tisanes (herbal teas). The regular tea, which is fermented or oxidised, brews a beautiful mahogany colour, has a robust, full-bodied taste with a naturally sweet, woody, tobacco-y flavour. Many argue that it is not a traditional tea bush, but a herb.
Place of origin: This shrub is exclusively grown in Southern Africa—the mountainous area in the province of Western Cape, along the western coast. Although efforts have been made to grow this tea elsewhere, but in vain, as the Rooibos plant grows in a symbiotic relationship with indigenous micro-organisms.
Benefits: Rooibos tea is completely caffeine free and has fewer tannins than other teas, hence improving your stress levels, mood and heart health. This tea is touted to be a magic portion that has 50% more antioxidants than green tea, but researches and studies are on to prove this claim. Rooibos contains polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They act as scavengers of free radicals throughout the body, which are damaging byproducts of cell metabolism that can cause diseases like cancer and heart issues. Rooibos tea is rich in aspalathin (rare antioxidant that balances blood sugar) and nothofagin (an active dihydrochalcone that has antioxidant benefits and regulates blood glucose levels) as well, making this a great beverage to boost your immune system. This tea’s alpha hydroxy acid (not found naturally from too many sources) and zinc content have purported uses in treating acne, pimples, sunburns or related skin conditions. It also aids good bone health, has antispasmodic properties that eases severe stomach cramps and abdominal pains.
Drink it with: Rooibos tea can be had in the same manner as regular tea—with milk and sugar or honey or vanilla syrup to taste, or a dash of lime works too. Owing to its many health benefits, several coffee shops around the world have begun to make rooibos espresso shots, lattes, cappuccinos and iced tea.
Red flag: Since Rooibos tea is a potent beverage, it may interfere with certain treatments (including chemotherapy) and pre-existing conditions (kidney and liver disorders), and is best used as a preventive measure and not a cure.
Buy it at: Select food and provision stores. You can also order it online through Amazon, Lovelylifestyle, IndiaMart, ShopHealthy, MyGreenKart, Infinitea, IndianTeaCompany, among others.
Photograph courtesy: Shutterstock
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