13 Amazing Health Benefits of Red Rooibos Tea

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Tea anyone? How about the antioxidant-rich and caffeine free red rooibos tea? It can be enjoyed either hot or cold to reap its benefits, which include improving skin and bone health, preventing inflammation, and improving heart health among others.

Rooibos tea, also called red tea, is also known for its beneficial effects on those suffering from colic or diabetes. It has the potential to alleviate headaches, insomnia, asthma, eczema, hypertension, allergies, and premature aging. This tea is free from caffeine content and is also low in tannins (a polyphenol found in plants, which, in excess, may cause stomach irritation, GI distress and liver damage). Drinking rooibos tea can further ease severe stomach cramps and boost the immune system.

What is Rooibos Tea?

Rooibos tea or red tea is an herbal beverage, touted to have medicinal properties. Rooibos is acquired from the Aspalathus linearis, a shrub found in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. According to the South African Rooibos Council, rooibos is not a true tea, but an herb. The fermented and dried tea is red in color and is also referred to as African red tea or red bush tea. The health benefits of red rooibos tea are abundant.

Watch Video: 9 Incredible Benefits of Rooibos Tea

Red Rooibos Tea Nutrition Facts

Rooibos tea is rich in many minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, zinc, magnesium, and alpha hydroxy acid. According to the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in the United States, the tea contains antioxidants like aspalathin and nothofagin and extremely potent and versatile phenolic compounds. Red rooibos tea has no oxalic acid, and therefore, it can be consumed by people who have kidney stones.

Health Benefits of Red Rooibos Tea

Red rooibos tea is one of the best beverages for those who care about their overall health. The beneficial factors that have been positively correlated with red rooibos tea are listed below.

Rich in Antioxidants

Aspalathin and nothofagin are two vital antioxidants contained in rooibos tea, making it a great beverage to boost your immune system and protect your body against all types of diseases including diabetic complications.

Rooibos contains polyphenols, flavonols, flavonoids, and dihydrochalcones. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimutagenic qualities. Polyphenols are organic chemicals that are often praised for their antioxidant capabilities. Flavonoids are associated with lowering the risk of coronary heart diseases.

A 2014 study conducted in South Africa suggests that regularly drinking organic red rooibos tea provides the liver with potent antioxidants. Antioxidants act as scavengers of free radicals throughout the body, which are detrimental byproducts of cell metabolism that can cause cancer and heart diseases.

A cup of organic rooibos tea and loose leaves on a white table

Improves Heart Health

Rooibos tea is anti-inflammatory in nature, which means that it assists in reducing blood pressure and scavenges free radicals similarly to other antioxidants. A study conducted by Swedish researchers suggests that red rooibos tea is a natural angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, which helps regulate blood pressure and boost heart health.

Quercetin, another powerful antioxidant found in rooibos tea, has been linked to preventing a wide variety of heart conditions. It promotes an increase in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and inhibits the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from binding to the walls of arteries and blood vessels.

Controls Diabetes

Aspalathin, one of the antioxidants found in rooibos tea, has several unique qualities. A study by Son MJ et al. on obese mice suggests that aspalathin has anti-diabetic properties. The 2013 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that aspalathin in rooibos tea can help balance blood sugar, improve insulin resistance and glucose absorption by muscles, and boosts insulin secretion from the pancreas. This results in an ideal defensive shield against developing type 2 diabetes. By balancing blood sugar, rooibos tea can also protect diabetics by preventing blood sugar spikes and drops that are detrimental to overall health. However, given the fact that this was an animal study, more research is needed to corroborate the results.

Improves Bone Health

Red rooibos tea is rich in fluoride minerals, calcium, and manganese, all which assist in maintaining good bone structure and stronger teeth. By increasing the bioavailability of minerals in your system, you can reduce your chances of developing conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, and chronic joint pain. A study conducted by researchers from the University of Miami, Florida, United States, suggests that red rooibos tea has enough fluoride to contain dental decay and cavities. Fluoride is more commonly related to dental health, which is why fluoride compounds are often found in most of the mouthwashes and toothpaste. Whether it is the teeth or the bone structure, red rooibos tea gives you an advantage over everything! Furthermore, manganese actually works on a deeper level, stimulating the enzymes which are required to build new bones and repair damages. While this preliminary research is positive, more scientific evidence is required to support these benefits of red rooibos.

Reduces Allergies

In many parts of South Africa, rooibos herbal tea is used as an effective way to treat allergies like eczema, hay fever, and allergy-related bronchitis. It has anti-inflammatory qualities, thanks to its quercetin content and is thus also prescribed for asthma and topical allergic reactions of various types throughout the body. However, clinical trials and research are needed to further support this benefit.

Skin Care

The alpha- hydroxy acid and zinc in this rooibos tea powder are very good for the skin. Two leading scientists from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa conducted a study on rooibos tea intake effects and found that rooibos has the ability to partially restore the function of aged cells. The alpha hydroxy acid and zinc in this rooibos tea powder are very good for the skin. Alpha-hydroxy acids can reduce the signs of wrinkles and other premature aging symptoms, but they are rarely found in natural products.

Treats Colic

South Africans use rooibos as a treatment for colic or stomach pain. The exact mechanism by which it soothes colic and stomach pain is unknown, but the anti-inflammatory properties of the herb are most likely responsible.

Antispasmodic Properties

This tea is a rich source of antispasmodic agents, which can ease severe stomach cramps and abdominal pains. This is mainly due to the activation of K+ (potassium) ions in the body without antagonizing the activities of calcium, according to a report published in Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology. This can reduce the presence of hyperactivity in the gastrointestinal tract, thus preventing diarrhea and other intestinal issues.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Yes, rooibos tea is known to relieve stress, nervous tension, and hypertensive conditions. Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is practically impacted by rooibos tea, which acts as a bronchodilator (increasing airflow to the lungs).

A research study done with 17 volunteers showed that drinking a single cup of rooibos tea (as well as green tea) helped inhibit the angiotensin-converting enzyme.

This enzyme causes our blood pressure to increase by contracting blood vessels. This study shows that drinking this tea may assist in lowering blood pressure, mitigating dangerous cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and atherosclerosis.

Caffeine-Free

Rooibos tea is completely caffeine-free and is therefore recommended for patients suffering from insomnia. A cup of rooibos beverage just before going to bed can help you sleep better, according to research in Economic Botany.

By removing caffeine from your diet, you may also lower your stress levels, improve mood, and enhance your heart health. Organic, caffeine-free rooibos tisane gives you the energy and health benefits without this dangerously addictive substance.

Prevents Kidney Stones

People with kidney stone problems can drink red rooibos tea as there is no oxalic acid in the beverage. Many times, people with kidney stones are discouraged from drinking too much tea because of this exacerbating ingredient.

Oxalic acid is a crystal-forming substance, so it can make the presence of calcium stones or other painful growth in the kidneys even worse by making them larger. So, people with kidney stones can keep rooibos tea bags handy whenever they want to have a healthy beverage!

Delays Aging

The antioxidants present in rooibos tea slow down the aging process and boost the strength of the immune system. Researchers at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa found that the local herb helps slow down the degeneration of fat cells, thus inhibiting the formation of wrinkles. Antioxidants in the tea seek out free radicals that damage the skin, hair, bones, and other organ systems.

Antioxidant-rich rooibos tea is one of the most potent beverages which helps keeps the body young. It also keeps your cognitive ability up to snuff, because it reduces the impact of oxidative byproducts in neural pathways, thus stimulating concentration and focus.

Health benefits of red rooibos tea - infographic

Acts as A Great Beverage

Red rooibos tea is an excellent thirst quencher and does wonders for athletes, children, and those who travel often, whether for pleasure or business. Most people prefer to brew red rooibos loose leaf tea in its natural form without using any sweeteners. For those who simply want a refreshing drink, caffeine-free rooibos tea is an ideal choice.

Contains Rare Nutrients

Rooibos tea contains rare nutrients like quercetin and bioflavonoids that assist in good blood circulation and obstruct hemorrhaging.

Where to Buy Red Rooibos Tea?

It is easy to make this tea at home. All you need is either of these products:

  • Red rooibos tea bags
  • Red rooibos loose leaf tea

Both are available online or in gourmet grocery stores. There are flavored versions available too in chocolate, vanilla, and so on to keep the taste interesting.

If you come across green rooibos tea, don’t get confused! Green rooibos tea is when the rooibos herb is steamed and dried immediately. It remains green in color and has a more grass-like flavor.

What Does Red Rooibos Tea Taste Like?

Rooibos tea has a naturally sweet and mild flavor, with nutty tones and can be brewed on its own. However, the traditional South African way of having red rooibos tea is with a splash of milk and a little sugar or honey. So, enjoy your hot cup of tea in your preferred way!

Side Effects

Despite all these health benefits of rooibos tea, there can be a downside for some people. Since rooibos is so powerful, it can interfere with the treatment procedure for various conditions, including chemotherapy for cancer patients. Also, rooibos has shown estrogenic activities in certain studies, so it might not be a good idea to use if you have hormone-sensitive cancer like breast cancer. Few cases of liver toxicity caused by intake red rooibos tea have been reported. It is advised to consult with an oncologist if this is your situation.

Finally, if you have any existing kidney or liver conditions, rooibos might be more harmful than helpful. It should be used as a preventive measure for these conditions, not as a cure. Make sure you speak to your doctor before adding any new dietary elements or beverages to your normal routine, particularly something as powerful as rooibos tea!

Other than that, enjoy and drink to your good health!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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