Rooibos Tea Is Delicious
Meet Aspalathus Linearis, also known as rooibos. The rooibos plant, meaning “red bush,” is part of the Fabaceae plant family, which contains legumes, peas, and beans. Rooibos tea is also often called red tea, bush tea, and redbush tea. It is endemic to a very unique region in South Africa in the Cederberg Mountains and today is grown and harvested there for its distinct taste.
What Does Rooibos Tea Taste Like?
Rooibos has an earthy flavor akin to yerba mate when converted into tea. It lacks caffeine and has less tannin than green and black teas. It contains a host of polyphenols such as flavones, dihydrochalcones, nothofagin, and aspalathin.
Where Does Rooibos Grow?
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the rooibos plant is where it grows. It is home to the Western and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa. More specifically, it is grown in the Clanwilliam Wilderness in the very unique Cederberg Mountains. The rooibos plant has grown wildly in this area for a very long time. Ants have helped with the plant's survival by dispersing seeds. Spreading out the seeds reduces the competition of parent-offspring and sibling-sibling competition.
A Brief History of Making Rooibos Tea
Traditionally, people would go up the mountains and harvest the leaves from rooibos plants that grew wildly. They would roll the leaves into bags and then carry them back down the mountain on livestock such as donkeys. As rooibos became more popular around the turn of the 20th century, the local people couldn't keep up with the demand for rooibos by harvesting the wild plants alone. However, they were unable to germinate the rooibos seeds.
No matter what they tried, rooibos seeds would not germinate by usual growing methods. In the 1930s, a cultivator discovered that he was able to propagate the seeds after scarifying their shell. After this discovery, local growers could germinate and plant more rooibos than they ever had before.
How Is Rooibos Turned Into Tea?
There are two types of tea made from rooibos plants: green and red. The green version requires more effort and is made with a process similar to that of black tea. It has a grassier and maltier taste than its red counterpart. Due to the additional labor involved in making the tea, it tends to be more expensive.
The red tea is the more popular variety, and it is what we offer through Oregon Tea Traders. The tea-making process involves a few key steps. First, the tea leaves are harvested. Next, the leaves are bruised to release enzymes that oxidize the leaves. Quickly following this, the leaves are slightly watered and left to ferment overnight. During this time, the leaves will change from green to an amber color and develop a sweeter aroma. Finally, the leaves are dried out and ready to be used in tea.
How to Use Rooibos Tea
Rooibos is commonly prepared like black tea. People often add milk, lemon, sugar, and honey to it. It can be served as a latte, cappuccino, or iced tea, and it is also delicious on its own. At Oregon Tea Traders, we incorporate rooibos tea into several delicious blends.
The earthy flavor of rooibos makes it a great addition in this classic holiday tea. Rooibos combines with spearmint and peppermint to create a delicious flavor that is perfect for the holiday season.
Harvest Spice tea contains a tasty blend of spices and rooibos. It is a warm and comforting tea well-suited for fall.
Our Rooibos Sun Tea is naturally sweet and rich. It has a subtle honey-like flavor and is great hot and cold.
Our Vanilla Creamy Dessert tea is a real treat. Sweet and aromatic, this tea has a smooth and warming quality to it. It's good on its own or with a hint of cream.