12 Amazing Health Benefits of Red Rooibos Tea

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

Native to South Africa, Rooibos tea is also known as red bush tea. It has emerged as a popular tea in health circles for its beneficial effects for those with diabetes, heart problems, and allergies. It is rich in antioxidants, which gives it pain-relieving and anti-aging properties. It is caffeine-free and low in tannins (a polyphenol found in plants, which, in excess, may cause stomach irritation, GI distress, and liver damage). Drinking rooibos tea can ease severe stomach cramps and boost the immune system.

What is Rooibos Tea or Red Tea?

Rooibos tea or red tea is an herbal beverage, touted to have medicinal properties. Rooibos is acquired from the Aspalathus linearis, [1] 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. [2]

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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. [4]

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. [5] [6] [7] [8]

A South African study conducted 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 heart diseases. [9]

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

Rooibos tea has a mild taste and is great for people who love having a light cup of tea. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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. [10]

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 LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from binding to the walls of arteries and blood vessels. [11]

Managing Diabetes

Aspalathin, one of the antioxidants found in rooibos tea, has several unique qualities. A study published in the journal Molecules in 2018 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 people with diabetes. It prevents blood sugar spikes and drops that are detrimental to overall health, as per a 2019 study. [12] [13]

Improves Bone Health

Red rooibos tea is rich in fluoride minerals, calcium, and manganese, all of 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 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. [14] [15]

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. This is why it is prescribed for asthma and topical allergic reactions. However, clinical trials and research are needed to further support its anti-allergen properties. [16] [17]

Skin Care

The alpha-hydroxy acid and zinc in this rooibos tea powder are very good for the skin. A South African study on rooibos tea found that it has the ability to partially restore the function of aged cells. The alpha-hydroxy acid and zinc in the 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. [18]

May Help with Colic Pain

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. [19]

Relieving Stomach Cramps

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. [20]

Lowers Blood Pressure

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 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. [21] [22]


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. [23] [24]

Health benefits of red rooibos tea infographic

Rich in antioxidants, a cup of red rooibos tea is packed with goodness

Prevents Kidney Stones

There is some anecdotal evidence that red rooibos tea can help people with kidney stone problems. This is because it has no caffeine or oxalic acid. People with kidney stones are discouraged from drinking too much tea because most teas contain oxalic acid.

Oxalic acid is a crystal-forming substance. It can make the presence of calcium stones or other painful growth in the kidneys even worse by making them larger. According to the book, South African Cookbook rooibos tea has very little oxalic acid, which makes it suitable for people prone to kidney stones. [25]

Delays Aging

The antioxidants present in rooibos tea slow down the aging process and boost the strength of the immune system. South African researchers 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 keep the body young. It also helps in keeping your cognitive intact, because it reduces the impact of oxidative byproducts in neural pathways, thus stimulating concentration and focus. [26]

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. You can also get flavored versions available in chocolate, vanilla, and so on.

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. South Africans traditionally drink their red rooibos tea is with a splash of milk and a little sugar or honey. The flavor deepens the longer you steep the tea leaves, becoming richer and more full-bodied.

How to Make Rooibos Tea?

To make the tea, use a level teaspoon or a teabag in a hot cup of water. The procedure is similar to making black tea. Let the tea leaves or the tea bag brew in boiled water. You can take it hot or cold. Feel free to add a dash of milk and sugar or honey, just as they do in South Africa. Enjoy your hot cup of tea in any way you prefer!

Side Effects

Despite all these health benefits of rooibos tea, there can be a downside for some people.

  • Rooibos has shown estrogenic activities in certain studies and may interfere with hormonal activity. [27]
  • Few cases of liver toxicity caused by the intake of red rooibos tea have been reported. It is advised to consult with an oncologist if this is your situation. [28]
  • 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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