Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), literally means "red bush." It's commonly known by the name "red tea," but it's technically an herb, not true tea from the plant Camellia sinensis. Rooibos has an interesting history and an impressive list of potential health benefits. (Please note: the information below is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.)
Rooibos is a source of antioxidants, and is the only known source of aspalathin, a particularly potent antioxidant. Often, customers will ask us "Does rooibos have more or fewer antioxidants than tea?" According to the findings in the study "Comparison of the Antioxidant Activity of Rooibos Tea with Green, Oolong and Black Tea" in Food Chemistry, evidence does not point to a clear answer. One method of analysis used in this study found rooibos to have less antioxidant activity than green tea but more than black tea, while another method showed rooibos’ antioxidant activity to be slightly less than that of all tea from the plant Camellia sinensis. Green rooibos tends to have even higher levels of antioxidants than red rooibos, but both have enough to measurably raise the levels of antioxidants in the blood. It also contains flavonoids; compounds likely to have anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-microbial benefits. Lastly, rooibos is low in tannins, making it less bitter than true tea.
Rooibos is completely caffeine-free, making it a great alternative for evening tea or those straying from caffeine.
"Comparison of the Antioxidant Activity of Rooibos Tea (Aspalathus linearis) with Green, Oolong and Black tea " by A. Von Gadow et al, Food Chemistry, 1997, Volume 60, Issue 1.
“Variation in Phenolic Content and Antioxidant Activity of Fermented Rooibos Herbal Tea Infusions: Role of Production Season and Quality Grade” by Joubert, Elizabeth et al, J. Agric. Food Chem., 2012, 60 (36), pp 9171–9179.