9 Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea (Plus Side Effects)

Written by Resurchify | Updated on: February 16, 2023

9 Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea (Plus Side Effects)

The rooibos plant is 300 years old (which is pronounced as ROY-boss). It is a plant that when harvested and dried can be brewed into a reddish-brown herbal infusion known as the ‘African red tea’ or the ‘red bush tea’ by the tea industry. Rooibos tea is usually known to be a red herbal tea that usually comes out from the fermented leaves of the Aspalathus linearis shrub. It is a baby when compared with the 1,000-plus-year-old Camellia sinensis.

You must know here that the early Dutch settlers of South Africa who loved drinking tea popularized the brewing of rooibos in the 1700s as a substitute for the more expensive, imported black tea at that time. Rooibos as a commercial tea crop did not evolve till the 1930s. This sensitive, herbal tea-producing plant continues to evolve. During the late 1990s, green rooibos was created, which is known to be a less oxidized version of the more recognizable red rooibos. And during the early 2000s, the industry developed powdered rooibos which was used for cooking, concentrated rooibos for a tea-like ‘espresso’ beverage as well as a rooibos extract to utilize as a food flavoring and as a cosmetics product flavor enhancer.

The indigenous people have been harvesting and brewing the naturally growing rooibos in the Cederberg region for thousands of years. While farmers still harvest the wild-growing rooibos in this region, some of the well-known grown rooibos has been transplanted to other regions of South Africa. South Africa is known to be the only country in the world producing rooibos, leading to an increase of 450 growers who produce up to 15,000 tons of rooibos every year. Out of those, 7,000 tons of South Africa’s rooibos gets exported to more than 30 countries all over the world. Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States are said to be some of the biggest importers of the herb.

Since the Rooibos plant is native to South Africa, the Rooibos tea on the other hand is widely known to be a healthy and delicious beverage. Rooibos tea tastes like mild tea which has some woody and earthy notes loaded with the scent of honey. Consumed all over southern Africa for so many centuries, Rooibos tea has become an on-demand drink on a global scale. Known to be a flavorful and caffeine-free substitute for black and green tea. It would also be more exciting to know that advocates praise rooibos for its innumerable health benefits, confirming that its antioxidants help in protecting against cancer, heart disease as well as stroke risks. It is known that indigenous rooibos gets formed by fermenting the leaves, which leads to the development of a reddish-brown color. Green rooibos, which usually doesn’t get fermented, is also available. It seems to be more expensive and grassier in flavor than the indigenous version of the tea, while also elaborating more on the antioxidants.

If you search for the harvesting process of Rooibos, you would find that it is done similarly to the Camillia Sinensis tea plant. When the plant gets harvested, at that moment, the bushy rooibos plant gets cut by hand and its stems and leaves are bound into bundles. The bundles are then sorted. After that, it is cut or bruised to create oxidation. Oxidation, or better said exposure to oxygen, brings out the plant’s essential oils and allows the leaves to develop their fragrant flavor along with the rich color. When the rooibos gets more oxidized, then it seems to be redder in color and sweeter and richer in flavor. This is known as the red rooibos. But, on the other hand, a less oxidized rooibos gets steamed and dried immediately instead of oxidized. As a result, it remains slightly green and preserves a grassy, mineral-like flavor. This less oxidized version is known as the green rooibos. You must also understand that Rooibos is known to be unique because it is found in South Africa’s mountainous region of Cederberg which is just to the north of Cape Town, where it still thrives today. One of the most bio-diverse areas of the country, Cederberg is known to be a World Heritage-protected wildlife area, with 500-million-year-old sandstone formations along with a 6,000-year-old rock art legacy left by the San people, or Bushmen, who previously inhabited the area.

You must need to understand here that the higher grades of rooibos contain more delectable leaves but less stem and dust. The indigenous people have been cultivating the naturally growing rooibos in the Cederberg region for thousands of years. While farmers are known to harvest the wild-growing rooibos in this region, some of the commercially developed rooibos have been transplanted to other regions of South Africa. South Africa is known to be the only country in the world which produces rooibos, boasting upwards of 450 growers who produce up to 15,000 tons of rooibos every year. About 7,000 tons of South Africa’s rooibos are exported to more than 30 countries all over the world. Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom are said to be the biggest importers of the herb.

The rooibos plant, Aspalathus linearis, is known to be a member of the legume family of plants that flourish in dry, mountainous regions with periods of significant rainfall. The linear description of the plant is derived from its linear growing structure, which leads to the creation of long, needle-like leaves. During the early spring, you can see the plant bloom with yellow-colored flowers. Each flower leads to the production of a legume with a single seed inside that comes out when ripe and lands on the dry ground around the plant. The early gatherers of wild rooibos found out that the ants harvested these seeds, so they normally hunted anthills for the seeds needed to repopulate rooibos plants. Today, farmers sift the sandy soil around the rooibos plant for accumulating fresh seeds which leads to the growth of new crops each spring. Rooibos plants take around 18 months to develop from seedling to harvest-ready and are usually harvested during South Africa’s summer months.

Rooibos tea is normally consumed as black tea. Some people love adding milk and sugar. Rooibos tea is known to have a sweet, delicate, and earthy flavor. Loaded with several types of antioxidants, Rooibos Tea contains several health benefits. Even though research into the effects of rooibos tea is known to be very much restricted, it is known to contain an ample number of powerful antioxidants, thereby, providing a huge number of health benefits. So, based on various research, the health benefits might include:


Rooibos tea is known to be free from caffeine, which is why it is a trusted option. Helpful for pregnant people, children as well as those who are much sensitive to caffeine. Even though caffeine might possess some health benefits, everyone cannot find it easy to consume caffeine securely. This might create interference with sleep, lead to more anxiety and also develop physical effects that include jitteriness and also heart palpitations.

Caffeine is known to be present in black tea, green tea, as well as in coffee. Rooibos tea is known to be a good substitute for people who would like to decrease their intake of caffeine or avoid it completely.

Low Amount Of Tannins

It is said that Red rooibos tea contains a low amount of tannins. Tannins are said to be naturally occurring compounds vitally present in many plant foods, that includes black tea, green tea, and also red wine. Tannins do interfere with the body’s absorption of iron, especially, nonheme iron, which is the form of iron that generates from plant-based foods.

Recent researches reveal that drinking six cups of rooibos tea regularly for 6 weeks did not create any negative impact on participants’ iron status.

Loaded With A Huge Amount Of Antioxidants

Rooibos tea, the green variety contains a huge amount of antioxidants than the red one. Some of the most notable antioxidants in the tea include quercetin and aspalathin. Antioxidants are vital for human health because they interfere with the free radicals which might damage cells in the body. Rooibos tea is also said to improve the antioxidant status of the liver.

Studies have shown that consumption of rooibos tea increases the levels of antioxidants in the body of the humans. But the effects are said to be very minor and wear off very quickly. However, other research provides that tea creates no effect on the antioxidant levels in the blood.

Ensuring That Your Heart Remains Healthy

Antioxidants are vital for a healthy heart and that is why rooibos tea might provide cardiovascular benefits which help in keeping cholesterol levels in check. Recent studies found that 40 percent of the people at risk of cardiovascular disease drank six cups of rooibos tea daily for over 6 weeks. At the end of this period, the participants significantly decreased their low-density lipoprotein, or ‘bad,’ cholesterol levels and innumerably intensified their high-density lipoprotein, or “good,” cholesterol levels, when compared with the control group.

Rooibos tea might help in improving heart health by injecting angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which helps in improving blood pressure. Reports point out that rooibos tea inhibited ACE activity 30–60 minutes after consumption.

Diabetes Management

Rooibos tea might help those people suffering from diabetes and keep their blood sugar levels under control which would in this process, reduce the risk of complications. Animal theories have found that the antioxidant aspalathin, which is known to be present in rooibos tea, has antidiabetic potential. Aspalathin might also help people with diabetes reduce their risk of vascular swelling as well as atherosclerosis. These are those factors that are known to play a role in the emergence of heart problems. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), people having diabetes are more likely to die from strokes than people who do not have diabetes, .

Various researchers point out that aspalathin aids in suppressing the vascular swelling that gets created by high blood sugar levels. There are low levels of aspalathi in red rooibos tea, but it is more abundant in unfermented green tea.

Weight Management

Rooibos tea is known to be calorie-free, so it might be a good beverage option for those who are aiming to lose weight or maintain their desired weight. According to a  recent study, rooibos tea might also benefit weight management by increasing levels of leptin. Leptin is known to be a hormone that helps to regulate food intake and transfer signals to the body that it has had the desired food. The tea also stopped the development of fresh fat cells and led to the formation of quicker fat metabolism.

A Lesser Amount Of Wrinkles

It has been found from some of the research that if a person applies rooibos tea on the required portion, then, it might improve the appearance of the skin by lessening the number of wrinkles. Researchers compared cosmetic blends made from herbal extracts in a gel base. The extracts included ginkgo, soybean, and also a mixture of tea and rooibos. After extensive research, it was found that the tea and rooibos mixture was most effective at reducing wrinkles, while ginkgo was useful for moisturizing the skin. However, it is doubtful that drinking rooibos tea will provide any notable skin benefits.

Might Remove The Risk of Cancer

Test-tube studies found that the antioxidants quercetin and luteolin, which are present in rooibos tea, help in killing cancer cells and preventing the growth of the tumor. But, you need to understand here that the amount of quercetin and luteolin in a cup of tea is very minute. In this context, fruits and vegetables are considered to be better sources. Hence, it is not clear if rooibos contains enough of these two antioxidants and whether they are absorbed sufficiently by the body for providing benefits.

Beneficial For People With Type 2 Diabetes

Rooibos tea is the only natural source of the antioxidant aspalathin, which animal studies confirm might have some anti-diabetic effects. A study conducted in mice with type 2 diabetes laid out that aspalathin balanced blood sugar levels and decreased the resistance of insulin, which could be an assurance for people having or are at risk of type 2 diabetes. However, in-depth studies on humans are needed. Other known benefits of Rooibos tea include:

  • Allergies
  • Digestion issues
  • Mental fatigue
  • Gas problems

Most Probable Side Effects

If you analyze carefully, you would find that rooibos in general is considered to be very safe. And the side effects are very rare. But let us know some of the side effects. In this context, you need to know that one case study found out that drinking large amounts of rooibos tea daily was linked to an increase in liver enzymes, which might indicate a liver problem. However, this is a complex case. You must also know that there are certain compounds in the tea which might stimulate the production of the female sex hormone known as estrogen. Some sources also point out that people with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast cancer, might want to avoid this type of tea.

But, this effect is known to be very mild and it is indeed required that you would need to consume very huge amounts before you are ready to see an effect. By stress and anxiety, Rooibos tea can help those struggling with stress and anxiety and help them get enough rest. The specific stress hormone that Rooibos targets are cortisol. The lower the levels of cortisol in the body, the higher the likelihood of uninterrupted sleep and this is the reason why Rooibos is such a good idea to drink before bedtime.

Now The Making of Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tea can be enjoyed hot or cold, in a similar manner to black tea. For the most accurate results, it is necessary to brew it according to the instructions laid down on the packet. The general rule states that you need to utilize 8 ounces of boiling water per teabag or a heap of a teaspoon of loose leaves. Then allow the tea to steep for a minimum of 5 minutes. And sip the tea plain or you can add dairy milk, plant-based milk, a pinch of lemon juice or a teaspoon of honey, or a tablespoon of sugar for taste. Rooibos tea is also available in grocery stores as well as online. Or you can also:-

  • Boil water- Boiling water for the tea is a very simple process while you are using an electric kettle along with the temperature settings. It is mandatory to boil more than the required one since you need extra to warm up the teapot.
  • Warm up teapot- Warming up the teapot is known to be an extra step that all tea professionals take the time for carrying out so that when the tea steeps, the water temperature won’t fall off simultaneously. So in this process, you need to pour some hot water into the teapot and then swing it around several times. Then finally remove the water. You need to note here that an important part while making a decent cup of tea is to use pure water. The healthier the water, the better the tea would taste.
  • Strain more than once if needed- Put some amount of rooibos tea into the teapot and add the required amount of hot water. Let the teapot be covered and steep. Then strain those rooibos solids and let hot tea be poured into a teacup.

At times, Rooibos bits might escape the strainer. So if you desire fewer rooibos solids in your tea, strain it again, through the use of a long-lasting mesh strainer. You must be aware that loose tea is usually higher in quality than tea bags. The more leaves in rooibos increase the richness of the tea. And the more stems, the lower would be the quality. You would find more stems in tea bags which is why it would always cost less than loose rooibos tea. Rooibos that is loose or in tea sachets would be higher in quality than the usual amount found in tea bags.

  • Adjust the way you would love it. If you wish to have a stronger cup of rooibos tea, then, you need to add a couple of more minutes to your steep time or add another half teaspoon of rooibos loose tea.
  • Store it properly. You must know that Rooibos tea can be brewed and stored in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Loose rooibos tea and tea sachets can be stored in an airtight container that is away from any kind of smell, heat, dust, or any kind of humidity.


So from the above, you might have understood that Rooibos tea is known to be a good substitute for black or green tea, especially for people interested in avoiding caffeine or tannins. It is also known to be rich in antioxidants, which provide benefits for the heart as well as for the liver.

In other words, Rooibos tea is known to be a very healthy and delicious beverage, which is caffeine-free, low in tannins, and loaded with an ample number of antioxidants — which leads to some health benefits.





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