Mother Nature's miracle beverage?A cup of Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free, high
in zinc, magnesium and many other vitamins and minerals. Recent South African
research appears to suggest that Rooibos may be good for headaches, disturbed
sleep patterns and some digestive problems. These factors have helped
contribute to a large spike in popularity over the last few years.
Through the 17th and 18th centuries, European travellers and
botanists visiting the Cederberg region in South Africa commented on the profusion
of "good plants" for curative purposes. Traditionally, the local people would climb the mountains
and cut the fine needle-like leaves from wild rooibos plants. They then rolled
the bunches of leaves into hessian bags and brought them down the steep slopes
on the backs of donkeys. The leaves were then chopped with axes and bruised
with hammers, before being left to dry in the sun.
In South Africa it is common to drink rooibos tea without
milk, but instead with a slice of lemon and sugar or honey to sweeten. The
flavour of rooibos tea is often described as being naturally sweet (without
sugar added) and slightly nutty. Rooibos can be prepared in the same manner as
black tea, and this is the most common method.
Rooibos is becoming more popular in Western countries,
particularly among health-conscious consumers, due to its high level of
antioxidants such as aspalathin and nothofagin, its lack of caffeine, and its
low tannin levels compared to fully oxidized black tea or unoxidized green tea
leaves. Rooibos also contains a number of phenolic compounds, including
flavanols, flavones, flavanones, and dihydrochalcones.
Rooibos is purported to assist with nervous tension,
allergies and digestive problems.
Traditional medicinal uses of rooibos in South Africa
include alleviating infantile colic, allergies, asthma and dermatological