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Rooibos is a naturally caffeine-free herbal plant that grows in South Africa. Revealing rounded sweet and fruity flavours, refreshing herbal notes, and a mild and smooth finish, Rooibos can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
Want to learn more about fabulous Rooibos Tea? Read our article Rooibos Tea - A Gift from the Cederberg Mountains.
While we try to keep to the strictest standards in our treatment of allergens, please be aware that our factory handles nuts, milk and soy ingredients. Please check our ingredients lists for specific information on each tea.
Your Guide to Rooibos Tea
Rooibos is a naturally caffeine-free drink that is sourced from the Aspalathus linearis, a plant that is indigenous to South Africa’s Cederberg Mountains, located north of Cape Town. The name ‘Rooibos’ is derived from the Afrikaans word for ‘red bush’, a likely reference to the reddish-brown colour that the plant takes on upon oxidisation during production. Known for its distinct earthy flavours and sweet, fruity notes, Rooibos is particularly low in tannins, making for a light, well-rounded drink.
Rich in antioxidants, Rooibos is also a source of polyphenols such as the compound aspalathin, which may help to protect against free radical damage, and contribute to weight loss by boosting fat metabolism.
The History of Rooibos Tea
Rooibos is believed to have been drunk by indigenous Bushmen native to the Cederberg region long before it was cultivated commercially. The early Dutch settlers in the Cape are believed to have drunk Rooibos as an alternative to the more expensive European black teas, but it was not until late in the 18th century that the Rooibos plant was first recorded by botanists.
Carl Thunberg, a Swedish botanist enlisted in the Dutch East India Company, reported on the plant and the Rooibos tea made from it during his three year stay in Cape Town, noting the woody aromas and delicious flavours of the drink.
Several years later, in 1904, Rooibos took on a new life when businessman Benjamin Ginsberg, a Russian emigrant to South Africa, saw great potential in the drink and began to market it as ‘Mountain Tea’, thus becoming the first exporter of Rooibos. In the 1930s the surgeon and botanist, Dr Pieter le Fras Nortier, saw the value of Rooibos as a viable agricultural product and developed an effective way of germinating Rooibos seeds, which again greatly increased the popularity of Rooibos tea.
Today, Rooibos tea is exported to over 30 countries, including the UK, China, Germany, Japan and the United States.
How Rooibos Tea is Produced
Rooibos loose leaf tea is cultivated in the Cederberg mountain region of south Africa’s Western Cape province, where the plant grows in well-drained, sandy and acidic soil. The plant, Aspalathus linearis, sits within the legume family and can grow from 0.5 m to 1.5 m in height, yielding from 70g to 125g of dry tea. A particularly robust plant, Rooibos is well suited to the dry, hot conditions of its growing region, and may be exposed to temperatures as high as 45℃.
Production begins with the planting of seeds in prepared seedbeds, taking place during the late summer months of February and March. Seeds are then transplanted into plantation rows during winter, and after 18 months the Rooibos plants can be harvested.
The next step of Rooibos tea production involves a process of fermentation. The plant shoots are first harvested mechanically, or manually using sickles, before being transported to the processing yard. The plant shoots are then shredded into 3-4 mm lengths and placed onto fermentation heaps, where they are bruised to continue fermentation. Water is added before further bruising and mixing, which helps to both accelerate the fermentation process and extract polyphenols; polyphenols colour the Rooibos stems when absorbed, contributing towards the processed plant’s characteristic red-brown colour. This fermentation process continues throughout the night, with the heap being spread out in the sun to dry the following morning. It is during this process that Rooibos develops its distinctive sweet, fruity flavours and warm, woody aromas.
Types of Rooibos Tea
Rooibos loose leaf tea is a naturally caffeine-free drink that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways – as a delicious black tea, as a green tea, flavoured with wonderful fruits, herbs or spices, or as a refreshing iced tea.
Below are some examples of Rooibos loose leaf teas:
Revealing rounded sweet and fruity flavours, refreshing herbal notes, and a mild and smooth finish, Rooibos Tea can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
Made from the same South African plant as traditional red rooibos, Green Rooibos contains leaves that are processed slightly differently: specially treated to prevent oxidation, Green Rooibos leaves create a tea that is lighter in body and less citric than red rooibos, offering up woody, grassy notes, a natural sweetness and delicious fruity flavours.
Revealing aromas of dark sugar and notes of vanilla, subtle fruitiness, a melting texture and warm, comforting flavours, Rooibos Vanilla is a delicious, caffeine-free rooibos tea that can be enjoyed all through the day.
Similar to Rooibos, Honeybush Tea is caffeine-free and low in tannins, with a dark red liquor and a delicious, naturally sweet taste.
Made using a combination of blueberries and creamy yoghurt, along with blue cornflowers, this bright and fruity redbush tea is wonderfully unique and very refreshing.
Made using South African rooibos flavoured with bergamot, Rooibos Earl Grey brings a delightful twist to classic Earl Grey flavours. Zesty citrus aromas and a rounded orange rind flavour result in a wonderfully refreshing tea, while a smooth, sweet texture makes it ideal for enjoying on a relaxing afternoon.
Made from a combination of Australian eucalyptus leaves and oranges, this caffeine-free redbush tea offers up a wonderful menthol aroma, fruity notes of peach and orange, and fresh flavours of eucalyptus.
Reviews of Rooibos Tea
Below is a selection of comments from customers who have enjoyed some of our top-class Rooibos varieties:
“A real taste of South Africa. Just the smell of this tea is wonderful!”
Izzy R. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Beautiful full taste”
Jenny S. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Absolutely love it. We make the tea in a filter pot and it is wonderful. So much better then in the tea bags from the store. Plus the package is paper/card so no harmful plastic at all. Will be buying again.”
S P. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Nice flavour, really good at any time of day.”
Sarah C. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“It is a lovely flavour, and I know I can drink as much as I like when I like as it's contains no caffeine. Great taste and a great price, fast delivery. What more can I say!”
Fiona W. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Very refreshing, lovely drink”
Marianne T. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Very nice tea, if you like Rooibos flavour tea then this tea is one of the best.”
Peter G. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Suzanne K. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What does Rooibos tea taste like?
Rooibos offers naturally sweet, fruity, earthy flavours and characteristic warm, woody, slightly herbal notes, with a full-bodied finish. The low tannin level in Rooibos means that it is not bitter, even when steeped for several minutes, resulting in a smooth, well-rounded and mild drink. It is also delicious when blended with fruits, herbs or spices, and can be enjoyed as an iced tea or flavoured with vanilla, blueberry, lemon, almond, orange, and many more great flavour combinations.
How should I prepare Rooibos loose leaf tea?
Rooibus tea should be prepared using freshly boiled water - preferably filtered tap or bottled spring water. Use one teaspoon of loose-leaf tea for every 8 oz (230 ml) of water and allow the covered leaves to steep for at least 5 minutes at temperatures between 90 °C (194 °F) and 95 °C (203 °F) Because Rooibos is low in tannins, there is little risk of your drink becoming bitter if you do steep the leaves for longer than 5 minutes. Use a tea strainer when preparing Rooibos in order to capture the small particles and ensure a very smooth, clean drink.
Rooibos is delicious served without milk, but you can add a drop of milk and even honey or sugar to taste, or make a fantastic Rooibos iced tea. And, as Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free, it can be enjoyed at any time of day and into the evening.
Where can I buy the best Rooibos tea?
When sourcing the best Rooibos leaf tea online, you need look no further than Tea-Direct to find some of the finest Rooibos loose leaf teas available. You can browse our full range here.