It’s latin name, Aspalanthus linearis. It’s common name, Rooibus (pronounced “ROY-boss”). It’s flavor, absolutely delicious! If you like black teas, you will love rooibus for those times when you don’t want something as bold. Rooibus, the red tea, is made from the leaves of the rooibostee (a shrub), which is native to the mountains near Capetown, South Africa. Traditionally, the stems and leaves are bruised with hammers, then left to ferment in the sun; resulting in a sweet flavor.
Rooibus is great on many levels. It’s perfect for a nighttime tea, when you don’t want something herbal, because it does not contain caffeine and has a very low tannin content. On the health front, it contains at least 37 natural antioxidant, minerals (including zinc), vit C, and alpha-hydroxy acids. It is naturally an antiviral, antianxiety, and antiallergy agent. Rooibus has been traditionally used to treat generalized inflammation and pain associated with syphilis (although not to treat syphilis itself). It has also been shown to have considerable antispasmodic activity – those with restless leg or suffer from insomnia, drink rooibus at night! It has been a bedtime favorite among South African herbalists, consumers, and even physicians. It’s likely that rooibos helps to induce sleep both directly, by affecting the metabolism of acetylcholine in the brain and preventing excessive firing of the neurons that cause wakefulness, and indirectly, by blocking hormonal reactions that cause inflammation and pain.
For allergies and stress, it’s been proposed that rooibus interferes with histamine (the thing which causes both nasal congestion and stomach upset during allergic reactions and times of stress). So it would especially be good for those with both food and/or respiratory allergies. It’s also suitable for use by children – it’s gentle and nontoxic (and don’t forget, caffeine-free). In addition to allergies, it’s antihistamine properties help reduce the risk of catching colds and flu. Mothers of the world, for your colicky babies, rooibus is often used as a milk substitute for infants who are prone to colic.
There is evidence that it contributes to a reduction in heart disease and other ailments associated with aging, including a beneficial effect on age-related mental decline. Recent studies performed by the Institute for Medical Science of Aging in Japan show that rooibus contains nearly 50 percent more skin-salvaging antioxidants than green tea. Because it’s packed with zinc, you’re giving your body a crucial mineral which, among other things, helps the body metabolize fatty acids and keeps cells plump. Grow old gracefully, intelligently, and easily…with tea!
As you know, we love our tea here at the Primate, and rooibus can be subbed in for any black tea in any of our recipes. I have an upcoming Iced Chai recipe that I use rooibus – which makes a perfect nightcap on these hot summer nights!
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