Rooibos is gaining increasing popularity in modern times, but its history is far from modern. Why has it come to be so loved by the South African people, and why should you make it a part of your diet?
(ROY-bos) plant grows exclusively in the Cederberg region of the North Western Cape in the Southern part of Africa. Rooibos as it has come to be known, is an anglicized version of the original name in Afrikaans, translated as Red Bush. Its first known usage was by the Khoisan people of Southern Africa. The Khoisan people had identified and exploited its medical benefits, and had made it a part of their daily routine way before the Europeans arrived in South Africa.
In 1772, the Rooibos plant was ‘discovered’ by Swedish naturalist Carl Thunberg upon his visit to South Africa, who noted that the country people made tea from a “red bush”. Its taste, medical usefulness, and ease of access made it a big hit among Dutch settlers, who used it as an alternative to the traditional black teas. Rooibos achieved popularity when Benjamin Ginsberg, a Russian immigrant, begun marketing it as a herbal alternative to the traditional black teas. Replicating the Chinese method of making herbal teas, he made Rooibos a commercial success, producing it in larger quantities than ever before. But the best was yet to come. With the scarcity of black teas during the World War II, Rooibos became even more popular.
The brewing of Rooibos is done using only the leaves of the red bush. These leaves are harvested green, bruised by cutting or chopping, and then fermented naturally in the sun till they are red. Rooibos’ rich flavors and unique red color are a result of the natural oxidation of flavonoids and polyphenols. After this, the "tea" is extracted by brewing and enjoyed by lovers of natural, healthy teas.
The health benefits of Rooibos are numerous and diverse. Because it is absolutely free from caffeine and low in tannin content, it lacks most of the snags of black teas. In fact, Rooibos is not a "tea" in the true sense of the word, it is a herb with multi-faceted benefits. Some of its benefits include cures for eczema, bone weakness, insomnia, and hypertension. It is rich in potassium, manganese, zinc, calcium, iron and magnesium. While it contains antioxidants like phenolic compounds, nothofagin, and aspalathin. Rich in polyphenol antioxidants, hydroxy acid, and zinc, Rooibos is great for the skin. It’s skin benefits include elimination of acne and sunburn, and lightening of wrinkles. The anti-inflammatory properties of these polyphenols assists in preventing heart related diseases, such as high blood pressure and hypertension. The presence of calcium, manganese, and fluoride minerals helps maintain your bone health and structure. Some of its other benefits include promoting hair growth and strengthening the hair, balancing of blood sugar and serving as a shield against Diabetes type II, and easing of stomach cramps and abdominal pains. It is also good for infant health such as colic and stomach cramping.
Read more about Rooibos Loose Leaf Teas
Read about Rooibos on Wikipedia
Read about health Benefits from NIH