Rooibos and Herbal Tea
Over the last five articles we have discussed the history, geography, and biology of the tea plant. We’ve talked about the properties of black, oolong, green, and white tea—how they are similar and what makes them different. But what about some of the most popular brews like chamomile, mint, and lemongrass? Sometimes called “infusions” or “tissanes,” herbal teas are not really tea at all.
Herbal infusions do not contain the camelia sinesis (tea) plant, but are harvested and processed in a similar way. A wide variety of herbs and spices are blended or stand alone to create a flavorful brew, and are enjoyed by the cup in the same way as traditional teas. Herbal concoctions are well known for their therapeutic values and are naturally decaffeinated.
One such herb is Rooibos, which translates to Red Bush, and is native only to South Africa. Rooibos has been used by South Africans for generations as an all around health tonic. It is higher in antioxidants and vitamins than any other type of tea, and its benefits are numerous. It aids in digestion, soothes an upset stomach and boosts the immune system. It can also be brewed and then used topically on skin irritations such as rashes and sunburn. After a long day in the sun, try throwing a couple of rooibos tea bags into a tub of warm water and soaking to remove the sting.
Besides its health benefits, rooibos also offers full-bodied flavor that holds up well with milk, which can be appealing to coffee drinkers. It is one of the few herbal teas that can make this claim, and despite its robust qualities it is completely safe for even the youngest tea drinkers. In South Africa, rooibos is given to infants with colic because it is so soothing. I have given it to my own child since she was quite young, both hot with milk and as an iced drink. There is really no other beverage I know of that offers so many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants without containing caffeine and sugar.
Thank you so much for your time over the last year. I have really enjoyed writing these articles and passing on information about tea. Drinking more tea is one of the healthiest changes you can make in your life. To combine two great pastimes, join us at CUP Tea Bar for a Progressive Food & Tea Pairing. Call 410-848-7622 for tickets and more information.
Additional posts by Lora Andrews
- The Champagne of Teas, 14 Jun 2013 in Wine & Dine
- The Story Behind Chai, 05 Apr 2013 in Wine & Dine
- Drink Tea for a Healthy Heart, 04 Feb 2013 in Wine & Dine
- Take Time for Tea, 06 Dec 2012 in Wine & Dine
- Herbal Teas as Remedies, 12 Aug 2012 in Wine & Dine
- White Tea, 10 Apr 2012 in Wine & Dine
- Green Tea, 01 Feb 2012 in Health & Wellness&Wine & Dine
- Try a Cup of Oolong, 02 Dec 2011 in Wine & Dine
- Black, Green, Oolong or White—Enjoy a Cup of Tea, 27 Sep 2011 in Health & Wellness&Wine & Dine