Is Rooibos Tea?

Many people ask, “what is rooibos exactly? I mean, is it a kind of tea?” Although rooibos (roy-boss) is often called redbush tea or bush tea, it does not come from the Asian evergreen bush, camellia sinensis, that produces tea. Rather, it is from the wonderfully woody, needle-like leaved South African bush, Aspalathus linearis.

Endemic to South Africa

So, no, it isn’t tea, however South Africans have been serving up this delicious leaf as a warm, steeped, tea-like beverage for centuries, especially when high tea prices push tea out of reach. Rooibos shares a similar step in processing with black tea – it is typically bruised and then oxidized, which gives it a rich red hue and bold spicy, woody, honey-like flavors. Unoxidized rooibos, green rooibos, has grassy, herbaceous flavors akin to green tea.


Unlike tea, it is caffeine-free and is popular as a caffeine-free alternative to coffee in lattes and other espresso drinks. Rooibos’ appeal as a tea and coffee alternative is matched by its wealth of health benefits, including:

  • free-radical fighting aspalathin and nothofagin.
  • anti-inflammatory flavanones, flavones, and flavanols attributed with fighting cancer and supporting skin, brain, and blood functioning.
  • minerals, such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron fluoride, and copper.

Give rooibos a try

Rooibos is a nice start if you want a new exploration into botanicals. We have it straight and in a variety of tasty blends that offer other health benefits. For a complex flavor, drink our Turmeric Twirl, with a rooibos base, complemented by ginger, turmeric, and clove and other delicious and nutritious ingredients.  Want a sweeter blend, and one that makes kids and adults alike smile?  Brew a cup of Honey Bear, with rooibos and bee pollen.

Can’t decide which rooibos to order, stop in at our tea bar the next time you’re in Missoula, Montana.  We carry an extensive list of over 15 blends of rooibos from which to choose.  See you soon!

by Lindsey Tucker

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