What Is Rooibos Tea?

Loose leaf Rooibos tea


Despite its beautiful dark red colour, rooibos tea has a soft and sweet flavour profile with subtle caramel hints and a touch of vanilla. Many people enjoy drinking it as an alternative to black tea, sometimes with a splash of milk and sugar. But where does rooibos come from, and what makes it so lovely?


Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) is a herbal tea that comes from the fermented leaves of the aspalathus linearis shrub, a plant native to South Africa. It's also commonly known as Red Bush tea. 


Here at Webster's, we're big fans. Keep reading to discover all kinds of exciting things about rooibos, including it's origins, health benefits, and how to brew the perfect cup at home.  


Rooibos Tea - Webster's Tea


What is the history of rooibos tea?


History shows that botanists first recorded rooibos tea in 1772 after they enjoyed a delicious-testing brew offered to them by local people in the Cedarberg mountain region of South Africa. Black tea was expensive and imported from overseas during this time, and it's said the Dutch settlers in South Africa discovered rooibos to be a more cost-friendly alternative. Commercially, rooibos tea didn't evolve until the 1930s; however, this delicious beverage has recently become much more widely sought after for many reasons.  


Although rooibos means "red bush", the plant itself has green, needle-like leaves and delicate yellow flowers. The harvesters pick, bruise and ferment the leaves in large piles before leaving them to dry naturally in the sun. This process turns the leaves into their characteristic red-brown colour. 


Rooibos Tea - Webster's Tea


What are the potential health benefits of this botanical tea?


First of all, rooibos contains several antioxidants, which point to many of the tea's health benefits. These protective plant compounds may help protect our bodies against the free radical damage that leads to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and potentially cancer. Antioxidants are also helpful in keeping cholesterol levels in check.


Secondly, rooibos contains no caffeine, making it an excellent alternative for those who wish to avoid or cannot tolerate caffeine's stimulating effects. Unlike black and green tea, rooibos also contains no tannins, which tend to make tea taste bitter. The result is a smooth and delicately nutty drink that can be sipped as is or paired with your favourite milk. We love a dash of oat milk and a spoonful of honey!


Rooibos Tea - Webster's Tea


How to brew rooibos tea


Because rooibos doesn't contain Camellia Sinensis, the tea plant which can easily be over-brewed and become bitter, you can be a little more relaxed regarding your brewing. We recommend adding 1-2 tsp of loose leaf tea to about 250ml water, with 6-8 minutes of steeping. Can we suggest a pretty glass tea pot to prepare it in?


And because we're still enjoying the last of the warm weather, you'll love the cold brew method. This refreshing chilled tea couldn't be easier to whip up at home. Good thing we shared everything you need to know in a recent journal post. 


Rooibos Tea - Webster's Tea


We're delighted to offer two organic blends featuring rooibos tea. Here's a little spiel on why we love them!


Blood orange is a bright and refreshing blend of rooibos tea sourced from the western cape of South Africa combined with juicy blood orange peels and hibiscus. It's addictively tangy and just as stunning chilled as it is hot. It's a total crowd-pleaser, and we can understand why! Even just smelling it's aromas from the packet is a joy-giving experience. 


Mānuka is wild harvested here in Aotearoa and combined with our organic rooibos to create a nurturing and soothing cup of tea. The blend also features marigold blossoms and coconut flakes. You might like to add milk to this tea if you desire or a touch of honey to enhance its sweetness. 


All in all, rooibos is a delightfully nourishing tea that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Our range of rooibos organic loose leaf blends come beautifully packaged in a gift-sized box, or a larger bag offering 100+ serves. Order some for yourself


Ps: We exist to offer better-tasting tea for those who desire more from their tea experience. If this is you, you'll have fun browsing our colourful range. Check out our delicious lineup of teas and accessories.