Rooibos derives from Aspalathus linearis (Burm.f.) a fynbos plant part of the Cape Floristic Region (South Africa), a known plant that has been consumed since the late 1700s (1).
Rooibos is low in caffeine and has a low tannin level compared to Camellia sinensis (6). Its taste is naturally slightly sweet. After harvesting Rooibos crops, leaves and stems are cut into small pieces, moistened, and fermented on open heaps (5). Dihydrochalcones of rooibos have been associated with the prevention of chronic illnesses as they possess antioxidant, anti-proliferative, immunomodulatory activities (11).
Rooibos tea has a high phenolic content with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities
It has been used for medicinal purposes and it contains active phytochemicals such as aspalathin, luteolin, and quercetin. These active compounds have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, brochondilator and antimutagenic activities (2). Aspalathin has free-radical capturing properties and is absorbed through the small intestine (3). When rooibos tea is unfermented, aspalathin content is nearly fifty times higher (8). Rooibos is also high in polyphenols such as rutin and quercetin, therefore rooibos is proposed to assist on allergies and digestion discomfort (4). Steeping time is important when drinking rooibos, with ten minutes being the more convenient, as it increases flavanol content (10). Boiling Rooibos tea has been shown to have the highest antioxidants capacities and total polyphenol profiles (12)
Rooibos can improve cardiac parameters
Consumption of rooibos tea offers anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic and cardioprotective effects, with it influencing biochemical and oxidative stress parameters in adults with a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease (7). Benefits were noticed with the daily consumptions of six cups of rooibos. Moreover, Villano and colleagues, reported the same positive effect on lipid profile and oxidative stress in healthy adults who received 500mL rooibos.
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7. Marnewick J.L., Rautenbach F., Venter I., Neethling H., Blackwurst D.M., Wolmarans P. et al. , 2011, ‘Effects of rooibos (Aspalathuslinearis) on oxidative stress and biochemical parameters in adults at risk for cardiovascular disease’, Journal of Ethnopharmacology 133, 46–52. 10.1016/j.jep.2010.08.061
8. Villano D., Pecorari M., Testa M.F., Raguzzini A., Stalmach A., Crozier A. et al. , 2010, ‘Unfermented and fermented rooibos tea (Aspalathuslinearis) increase plasma total antioxidant capacity in healthy humans’, Food Chemistry 123, 679–683. 10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.05.032
10. Peterson J., Dwyer J., Jacques P., Rand W., Prior R. & Chui K., 2004, ‘Tea variety and brewing techniques influence flavonoid content of black tea’, Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 17, 397–405. 10.1016/j.jfca.2004.03.022
11. Magcwebeba, T., Swart, P., Swanevelder, S., Joubert, E., & Gelderblom, W. (2016). Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Aspalathus linearis and Cyclopia spp. Extracts in a UVB/Keratinocyte (HaCaT) Model Utilising Interleukin-1α Accumulation as Biomarker. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 21(10), 1323.
12. Damiani E, Carloni P, Rocchetti G, Senizza B, Tiano L, Joubert E, de Beer D, Lucini L. Impact of Cold versus Hot Brewing on the Phenolic Profile and Antioxidant Capacity of Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) Herbal Tea. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Oct 21;8(10):499. PMID: 31640245; PMCID: PMC6826389.