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Rooibos means "red bush" referring to the Aspalathus liners plant grown in South Africa's fynbos. The leaves are used to make a herbal tea (or bush/redbush tea) and is a popular beverage in its native location. Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free, and is generally served in a similar manner to black tea with milk and sugar being added to taste, although there has been a rise in Rooibos Iced Tea in recent years.

Your Definitive Guide to Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tea is a naturally caffeine-free beverage that is made with the soft, needle-like leaves of the rooibos plant (Aspalathus linearis). This broom-like shrub of the plant family Fabaceae, grows in South Africa’s beautiful Cederberg fynbos, a mountainous region of striking rock formations, mountain streams, and an abundance of unique flora and fauna. Despite attempts to grow rooibos in other countries, this part of South Africa, with its unique sub-climate and extremes of temperature, appears to be the only place it can thrive. Rooibos tea is also called ‘bush tea’ or ‘redbush tea’ and is renowned for its many health benefits.

The History of Rooibos Tea

Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tea was being consumed by the indigenous Bushmen of the Cederberg region centuries before rooibos plants were cultivated for commercial use. In the late eighteenth century, a botanist, Carl Humberg first popularised rooibos as a beverage, and in 1904, businessman Benjamin Ginsberg, marketed it as a herbal drink called ‘Mountain Tea’. However, the growth and success of the rooibos tea industry can be mainly attributed to Dr Pieter Le Fras Nortier, a district surgeon and botanist, for his research and perseverance in finding an effective way of preparing rooibos seeds for germination. The popularity of this flavoursome beverage increased further in the early 1970s, after South African mother and businesswoman, Annique Theron, published a book highlighting the potential healing and health benefits of rooibos tea, and associating its use with the improvement of her daughter’s allergies.

How Rooibos Tea is Produced

Grown in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape province of South Africa, rooibos bushes bear tiny yellow flowers; each flower producing a legume containing a single seed, the outer shell of which is extremely hard. Once they have germinated, the seeds are planted out in beds. Harvesting is done by hand using sickles, and the leaves are cut and crushed, then aired and watered before being laid out in heaps to ferment. The oxidation process changes their colour from green to a deep reddish-brown. They are then spread outside in the sun and mountain air to dry.

Rooibos Green Tea is made with the same needle-like leaves as traditional red rooibos, but they are processed in a way that prevents oxidation. Unfermented rooibos tea leaves are lighter in body, and have a natural sweet malty taste and delicate grassy aroma. Like other green teas, they are thought to contain higher levels of antioxidants and nutrients than regular rooibos.

Types of Rooibos Tea

The flavour of pure rooibos tea lends itself to be blended with a diverse assortment of flavours, making it a most versatile tea. Different types of rooibos tea blends include those that have natural flavourings, as well as herbs, spices, fruits and flower petals, such as Rooibos Orange and Eucalyptus, Cherry Almond Rooibos, Sunshine Burst Orange Rooibos and Coffee and Amaretto Rooibos, to name just a few. Clanwilliam Rooibos Matcha is a bit different, being a rooibos matcha tea, made from powdered rooibos. It is slightly sweet with bitter chocolate notes.

Buying Loose Leaf Rooibos Tea Online

f you’re looking to buy rooibos tea online, Tea-Direct has a wonderful selection of the best rooibos tea varieties to choose from. You can view the whole range here. If you’d prefer to sample different kinds of rooibos tea before committing to a larger pack, our Rooibos Tea Gift Pack will supply you with a carefully chosen selection of the finest teas from the rooibos range. It contains eight packs of loose rooibos tea, beautifully presented in a black presentation box. Varieties include Clanwilliam Rooibos Tea, Cherry Almond Rooibos, Mint Chocolate Rooibos, Coffee and Amaretto Rooibos, Totonac Vanilla Rooibos, Sunshine Burst Orange Rooibos, Fruit and Blossom Rooibos and Cacao and Red Rooibos. The perfect gift for the rooibos tea lover or for those who have yet to try this fabulous tea.

Customer Reviews of our Rooibos Teas

Rooibos Tea

A delicious pure rooibos tea that reveals rounded sweet and fruity flavours, refreshing herbal notes, and a mild, smooth finish.

“We have had the Rooibos on Subscribe and Save for some time now. EXCELLENT tea and at a better price than a previous subscription to a rival. We both love this tea and can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Elspeth M. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Rooibos Vanilla Tea

This well-loved rooibos loose leaf tea has a subtle fruitiness and aromas of dark sugar and sweet vanilla notes. Possibly the best vanilla rooibos tea you’re likely to find.

“The wonderful aroma of vanilla as you open the packet and the delicious taste as you sip into this luxurious tea.”

Peta L. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Mint Chocolate Rooibos

Luxury rooibos tea blended with a winning combination of peppermint, cacao bean pieces and pretty calendula petals, make Mint Chocolate Rooibos an indulgent treat to be enjoyed at any time of day.

“Really enjoy this tea. Mint and chocolate flavours come through really well. Perfect for as an afternoon tea when you're in need of something a little sweeter.”

Lee S. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Rooibos Earl Grey Tea

A caffeine-free option for lovers of Earl Grey Tea, this refreshing rooibos variety offers Earl Grey flavours in the form of natural bergamot flavouring and zesty lemon peel, to perfectly complement the natural sweetness of luxury rooibos.

“It is a lovely flavour, and I know I can drink as much as I like when I like as it contains no caffeine. Great taste and a great price, fast delivery. What more can I say!”

Fiona W. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Zesty Lemon Rooibos

The traditional flavour of rooibos with a boost of citrusy notes from the addition of lemongrass, calendula petals and natural flavours. Zesty Lemon Rooibos is smooth, well-rounded, and a great choice for a refreshing iced tea.

A great drink with a tangy flavour.”

Marianne T. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Rooibos Chilli Tea

A warming mix of premium rooibos tea, chillies, carrot flakes, rosebuds, safflower and peony petals makes for a full and fruity tea with a bit of a kick. An aromatic and invigorating brew.

“You need to try it 3 times, then you'll start to appreciate this very special blend. Now it's just the thing to perk you up in the afternoon or wake up your digestion in the morning.”

Adrian P. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Rooibos Blueberry Tea

A delicious combination of South African rooibos and honeybush teas blended with blueberries, creamy yoghurt, fennel and delicate cornflower blossoms, makes Rooibos Blueberry Tea a wonderfully unique and refreshing beverage.

“It was a present for my husband and he really loved it, we both love rooibos tea, this one is very tasty! Thank you for quick delivery!”

Victoria Z. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


What does rooibos tea taste like?

Pure rooibos red tea has a natural sweetness and a pleasant earthy, slightly nutty flavour and woody cinnamon aftertaste. It can be steeped for longer than other teas without becoming astringent or bitter, when it then becomes richer in flavour and is likely to contain more nutrients and antioxidants. Green rooibos teas have a more delicate grassy flavour and are less citric than red rooibos teas.

Is rooibos tea good for you?

Tea in general offers health benefits in the form of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and rooibos tea is no exception. Its high levels of antioxidants mean it could be beneficial in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders and cancer, and it may have positive effects on cholesterol levels. Rooibos contains aspalathin, a flavonoid believed to be unique to the South African rooibos plant, that appears to have anti-diabetic properties, and studies have suggested drinking rooibos tea could help in the management of diabetes.

Rooibos has been shown to offer antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects, and it contains the bioflavonoid quercetin, that is known to have anti-allergenic properties; many people drink rooibos tea to help in the relief of allergies and skin conditions such as eczema. Cooled rooibos tea can even be used as a face wash, to revitalise the skin or help treat common skin conditions. It’s also thought that green rooibos tea may help reduce uric acid in the blood for the benefit of those who suffer with gout.

Rooibos tea is a soothing herbal infusion that is suitable to be consumed during pregnancy, when it may help alleviate nausea and heartburn. Drinking rooibos tea could also be useful when dieting, as it’s been shown it can increase the levels of leptin in the body, a hormone that helps regulate food intake.

Will drinking rooibos tea help me sleep?

Rooibos is a soothing and relaxing tea that is caffeine-free and low in tannins, so it’s a great drink to wind down with at the end of the day. A rooibos herbal infusion can calm body and mind, and drinking rooibos tea at night is a good alternative to your usual hot chocolate or cocoa. Rooibos also contains the essential trace minerals, calcium and magnesium, that are thought to help induce high quality sleep.

How should I brew Rooibos Tea?

Rooibos loose leaf tea should be prepared just like black tea, using one heaped teaspoon of leaves to one cup of water, and infused with freshly boiled water, preferably filtered, for between 4-10 minutes. Naturally sweet rooibos tea is delicious served just as it is, or with the addition of milk or lemon, and sugar or honey if desired. A rooibos iced tea is the perfect cooler to sip on a hot summer’s day.