Pardon the unintentional pun, but Rooibos, also known as red tea, sometimes seems like the red-headed stepchild of the tea world. Black, green, herbal and even white tea seem to get a lot of attention, so let's take a moment to appreciate red tea, with some fun facts:
- Rooibos is primarily grown in South Africa, and is practically a national drink there. It's also called "Bush Tea" or "Redbush Tea" - especially in the UK.
- What is it, exactly? It's a kind of herbal tea, meaning it doesn't contain any leaves from the camellia sinensis plant. The Rooibos plant itself is a member of the legume family, has little needle-like branches and pretty yellow flowers.
- Don't be intimidated by the name, just say "Roy-bos" and you'll sound like a pro.
- Rooibos doesn't have caffeine, but it does have all sorts of other great things, like polyphenols, which get a lot of attention because these macronutrients may have an important role in preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease.
- Our own sachets of Rooibos, which we call Organic African Sunset, include just a touch of lemongrass to brighten up the flavor a bit.
- Since South Africa has hundreds of commercial rooibos growers, quality control is quite important to the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. In 2012 they came up with a flavor wheel that you can use to determine the quality of the rooibos you've just steeped — flavors like sweet, woody, fruity and floral are good qualities in red tea, and earthy, vegetal or astringent tastes are negative qualities.
We've posted the flavor wheel here so you can brew up a cup, and compare for yourself! Akubekuhle! (That's cheers in Zulu. Did you know there are 11 official languages in South Africa?!)