What is Rooibos Tea?
Rooibos tea is a red herbal tea that is produced from the fermented leaves of the Aspalathus linearis shrub, a plant native to South Africa. The Aspalathus linearis shrub grows in the mountainous region of Cederberg, which is slightly north of Cape Town. Rooibos tea has a sweet, earthy, and delicate flavour. It contains numerous antioxidants, which might explain some of the tea's health benefits. Plenty of people enjoy it as an alternative to black or green tea.
Processing Rooibos Tea
Rooibos is oxidized to bring out the plant's essential oils and assist the leaves to develop their colour and flavour. The greater the rooibos is oxidized, the redder in colour, and sweeter and richer in flavour it becomes. This type of rooibos is called red rooibos. A less oxidized rooibos remains slightly green in colour, and retains a grassy, mineral-like flavour. This version is called green rooibos.
Rooibos is steeped in hot water like any other tea or herbal infusion. Since it is an herb, rooibos is caffeine-free. Rooibos tea is a common alternative to caffeinated coffee and tea. Rooibos tea contains a broad overall flavour profile and the tea can be described using words like sweet, grassy, honey, smoky, caramel, woody, and floral among other words. Rooibos is delicious on its own, but it is also delicious with a splash of milk and a little honey or sugar, which is the traditional South African way to drink rooibos.