Although rooibos has gained a lot of popularity in the past decades, it is still relatively unknown, despite having a number of health benefits. Sometimes known as red, bush, or redbush, this tea is derived from the rooibos plant, which is native to South Africa. It only grows in a particular region of this country. The Western Cape province of South Africa is famous for its fynbos ecosystem. Fynbos is a type of shrub-land, characterized by small plants growing in a Mediterranean climate. It is here that this plant is found.
This tea is being used in the West since the last 3 centuries, when Dutch settlers in South Africa collected it for its medicinal properties. The native South Africans were already well aware of the plant, and collected it in large quantities and used it as a hot beverage. For settlers in this region, it became a less expensive alternative to imported black tea and other exotic beverages. Today, this plant is used to make coffee liqueur as well.
One of the major selling points of this beverage is that, unlike many herbal ones, it has a naturally robust flavor and does not contain caffeine. This makes it a good choice for people who are looking for caffeine-free alternatives to tea and coffee, but are not willing to sacrifice the flavor. Although, it has an excellent flavor of its own, some specialty tea companies sell flavored blends, which can include orange, lemon, or vanilla flavorings. It is also used as an ingredient in specialty tea blends containing other types of tea and fruit.
Another benefit of this tea is its high antioxidant content. The plant contains a significant amount of aspalathin, a compound with both antioxidant and anti-mutagenic properties. This has made it a popular choice for those who hope to improve their health by ingesting high amounts of antioxidants, which fight disease-causing free radicals. In Japan, it is known as "long life tea" for its supposed contribution to longevity. It should be noted that this variety has a lower antioxidant content than green tea, but because the latter contains caffeine, rooibos can be an excellent substitute.
As with most food and drink substances, the quality of this beverage also varies. Typically, it contains both stems and flowers from the plant. A higher proportion of flowers is thought to produce a better quality because, it results in a deeper flavor. Most of the rooibos that is exported from South Africa is of a high quality, whereas the lower quality ones remain in the domestic market.
Where to Find
Because it is less popular than other types of tea, it can be somewhat difficult to find it in various parts of the world. Most supermarkets in the United States carry at least one brand of this variety, but it is often marketed as a gourmet tea and can hence, be quite expensive. It is best to purchase it on the Internet after undertaking some amount of research about the various vendors in the market.