Fact File

  1. What is the difference between Rooibos and green Rooibos?
    Traditional or fermented rooibos is harvested, cut and sprayed with water. The damp leaves are then allowed to ferment for 12 hours before being spread out and dried in the sun. This process gives it its distinctive amber hue and characteristic taste. Green, or unfermented rooibos, is harvested, cut and then dried immediately, without the fermentation/chemical oxidation step. When served it has a lighter colour and milder taste compared to traditional Rooibos tea.
  2. What is the best way to prepare a cup of Rooibos tea?
    To make a really good cup of rooibos, use freshly boiled water. This ensures you get the best infusion or extraction from the dried leaves. You need to allow time for the leaves to infuse and open, releasing their fragrance and flavour. If using loose-leaf tea, the rule of thumb is one to two teaspoons per cup for two to four minutes, depending on the strength you like. If you prefer tea bags, work on one per cup. A longer extraction time will result in stronger tea. Once it is poured, enjoy immediately.
  3. How many cups of Rooibos should I drink every day?
    A 2008 clinical trial conducted by Professor Jeanine Marnewick at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology showed that six cups of Rooibos per day holds definite health benefits, and specifically helps to reduce oxidative stress in the body and lower the risk of heart disease. The six cups of Rooibos should be spaced throughout the day to deliver optimum health benefits.
  4. Is it good or bad to drink more than 6 cups of Rooibos per day?
    There is no evidence that drinking more than six cups of Rooibos a day can do you any harm. Remember to spread your Rooibos throughout the day to get the maximum health benefit.
  5. What are antioxidants and why is it important?
    An antioxidant is a molecule that can inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation reactions can produce unstable and possibly damaging compounds, known as “free radicals”. Antioxidants are also capable of limiting the damage caused by free radicals, by scavenging/”inactivating” them. Several studies have shown that Rooibos extracts contain powerful free radical scavengers and so help to protect cells and important cellular components such as lipids (fats), proteins and genetic material (DNA) against oxidative damage. Aspalathin is the most active antioxidant in Rooibos and it is not found anywhere else in nature.
  6. Does it matter if I add sugar and milk to my Rooibos? Or what about lemon and honey?
    You can add sugar, honey or lemon to taste, and add milk too if you prefer – there is no evidence that this will affect the health benefits offered by Rooibos.
  7. Is it better to drink Rooibos hot or cold?
    You can enjoy Rooibos hot or chilled – depending on the time of day or time of year. It does not make a difference to the functional ingredients in the beverage.
  8. What other ways are there to enjoy Rooibos, other than as a cup of tea?
    Rooibos complements fruit flavours well and is therefore a popular ingredient in iced teas. To make a simple, refreshing iced tea, sweeten a strong pot of rooibos with honey and stir until the honey is dissolved. Leave in the fridge overnight and then add a touch of lemon or your favourite fruit juice. Cold rooibos can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks. It’s also a healthy way to add flavour to smoothies and fruit shakes. You can also use Rooibos as a meat marinade or simply add it to stews or soups instead of adding water. In some parts of South Africa you can now buy Rooibos-based yoghurts and drinking yoghurts.
  9. Can Rooibos boost your immune system?
    Studies done in Japan in 2007 showed that Rooibos restored immune function in immune-suppressed rats. The SA Rooibos Council is currently funding a study led by Professor Andrew Marston at the University of the Free State to look at the potential of Rooibos to strengthen immune systems in vitro.
  10. Does Rooibos cause drowsiness?
    Rooibos is known for its calmative properties that can help you to relax at night and will promote a good night’s sleep. However, if you drink Rooibos any time of the day it will not make you feel drowsy.
  11. Does Rooibos stimulate appetite?
    There is no scientific evidence that Rooibos stimulates appetite. On the contrary, Rooibos may be able to play a role in weight management. A research project that kicked off at South Africa’s Medical Research Council in 2011 will look at the role of Rooibos in the processes whereby the body stores and breaks down fat.
  12. Is it true that pets (dogs) can benefit from a lukewarm Rooibos rinse after their bath? Why?
    Pets with allergic skin conditions will definitely benefit from being rinsed with lukewarm Rooibos after a bath. Studies in people have also shown that Rooibos is an effective way to treat several skin conditions such as itching and inflammation after too much sun. Many people also use if to get relief from eczema, acne and nappy rash.