Caffeine-free, low in tannins and copper red in your cup: rooibos – also known as redbush – is a popular drink first brewed around 300 years ago. The tea was exported to Europe in the early 20th century. Ever since, it has been highly prized for its refreshing effect, as an infusion generally with added flavours or as a basis for blends and mixed drinks. The fermented redbush is mostly represented by its typical red colour. However, green rooibos is sometimes also available; it is not fermented and thus does not taste as sweet as its “big brother”.
It contains no caffeine and no tannins: rooibos tea refreshes and has a pleasantly sweet taste. It is a particular favourite with many people of an evening. In the iced tea version, ideally combined with fresh fruits, it is almost as trendy as the latest cocktail.
Redbush is not actually a tea, but rather a herb and the product is thus an infusion. Rooibos tea does not come from a tea plant and is thus better classified as a herbal tea/infusion.
The red infusion is mild with a pleasant sweetness. When lukewarm, it quenches thirst and is also a favourite with sportsmen and children alike as an alternative to mineral water. The darker the rooibos tea after the infusion, the more intense its flavour. Everyone should discover their own favourite tea and develop their own method for achieving optimal results. The most important thing to remember is that the quantity of leaves directly affects the taste: the more leaves, the more intense the flavour. The size of the teapot or cup also determines the taste of the tea.
Rooibos goes better with great flavours than practically any other tea. For example, the addition of fruit produces a wide range of delicious varieties: Rooibos Vanilla Tea, Rooibos Caramel Tea, Rooibos Marzipan Tea, Rooibos Orange Tea, Rooibos Peach Tea, Rooibos Mango Tea.
The tea is made in the same way as a herbal tea. One slightly heaped teaspoon per cup. Boiling water to pour over, allow to infuse for at least 5-10 minutes. Enjoy on its own or sweetened with a little sugar.
Rooibos on the rocks. The aromatic rooibos tea is also perfect for preparing iced tea. You can brew it twice as strong and pour it over ice cubes when the infusion is ready. Alternatively, you can allow it to cool and serve with ice cubes. Fresh fruit such as pineapple, strawberries and limes are perfect accompaniments.
The production in South Africa observes traditional rules and certain steps: The bush is cut off about 30 cm above the ground with a scythe or sometimes by machine. The leaves and branches are chopped to a length of approx. 2-5 mm. As is the case for black tea, rolling and moistening induces fermentation, which can last for up to 24 hours. The oxidation process gives the leaves their brown colour and later produces a sweet, reddish brown infusion. The fermented leaves are dried in the sunshine.
Redbush is only native to South Africa, to the Cedarberg, a mountain range close to Cape Town. Rooibos grows as a shrub resembling rosemary or broom.
The tea keeps well when stored in a dry place and protected. The plant’s aroma and flavour are preserved by keeping it away from strong spices and direct sunlight. Protect the tea against heat, moisture and direct sunlight. The best place to store it is in a caddy made of porcelain or stainless metal. Do not use plastic and do not use paper containers for long-term storage.
Tea should be exposed to as little oxygen as possible. It absorbs foreign smells, so it is also practical if the container is as airtight as possible. Avoid storing the tea container in the direct vicinity of strong smells, i.e., alongside spices or cleaning products.
EILLES TEE also has a wealth of practical tips and great caddies available for tea connoisseurs.
As a general rule, for at least three years if kept in a dry and preferably dark place.
Learn more about herbal tea