Friday, September 22, 2006

The Rage about Rooibos...

Today I want to introduce you to a new tea. This is likely a far different tea than you have tasted or heard of before, but it is a most fantastic tea nonetheless, and when I want a tea without the caffeine (which sometimes happens, as I don't get any effect from caffeine anyway), this is my tea of choice. It is called Rooibos tea, otherwise known as African Red Tea.

Here's a bit of the history on Rooibos.

Over three hundred years ago, native inhabitants of the mountainous regions of South Africa's Western Cape were the first to collect wild rooibos and make it into tea. They had discovered that they could brew a sweet, tasty tea from rooibos leaves and stems that they cut, bruised with wooden hammers, fermented in heaps, and then sun-dried (seems like quite a process, eh?). Botanists first recorded rooibos plants in 1772 when they were introduced to the tea by the Khoi people.

Since that time, Rooibos has grown in popularity. A great bit of this popularity (at least in America) came during WWI,I when tea supplies from Asia forced drinkers to find an alternative. Rooibos tea was more than up to the task. Today, with the many amazing health benefits surfacing and many flavors available, rooibos tea has far surpassed its role as an alternative beverage.

Either fermented or nonfermented versions of rooibos tea are available, although the unfermented are more difficult to find and are generally more expensive.

Rooibos, as with most teas, works best when brewed loose leaf. Rooibos is naturally low in tannins, has a somewhat earthy taste with no bitterness, and has some amount of appeal to children (most children will drink it without sugar.) It is extrememly high in antioxidants and micronutrients, extremely low in tannins (and hence has no bitterness), and fairly high in flavor. It is available at most whole herb vendors.

So, if you are looking for something new to try, or looking for a way to enjoy the sameness of tea without the caffeine or tannins, I highly recommend that you give Rooibos a try! You'll be glad you did!

Over and out,


~ Phyll said...

Technically, Rooibos is referred to as a tisane, but not tea.

Nice blog!

Relznuk said...

Thanks for that comment. The correction is appreciated. While it is true that teas of a species other than Camilla Sinensis are typically referred to as tisanes, I opted not to use the term in this case for two reasons.

1. Rooibos is the most common of the tea substitutes, and therefore is called tea in a great number of cases, and even has a popular common name of "Red Tea."

2. In some cultural settings (such as some in Africa), Rooibos is used in place of tea to such an extent that I found the word substitution appropriate.

Thanks for your comments though! Much appreciated! I get really encouraged when readers comment on my articles.