Rooibos (ROY – bus) is an African red tisane.
I’ve been a tea drinker for the last 8 or 9 years and now, I’m a committed tea drinker, having three or four a day. When I was a kid I tried orange pekoe and was put off tea until my wife, Lynnise, brought home some Earl Grey to try. I loved it. I started drinking tea everyday from that time on. Earl Grey is always in my tea cupboard. I buy a hundred bags at a time and use it to drink hot or make Southern style sweet tea. The last few years I’ve been branching out and trying different kinds of tea from White to Sencha style Greens, Assam to Lapsang smoked tea, and find them all enjoyable, but if I had to choose just one hot beverage, I’d choose Rooibos.
Tea is harvested from the camellia sinensis plant and contains different amounts of caffeine depending on how it’s processed but the Rooibos plant is a tisane and is classified as part of the legume family. The Afrikaans word “rooibos” means “red bush” and is an herbal drink free from caffeine. This wonderful tisane has been growing in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa for hundreds of years enjoying popularity in Africa for generations. Recently this tisane has been getting attention from the rest of the world because of its health benefits. Wiki lists it’s high levels of antioxidants, low tannin levels compared to tea, it’s ability to assist with nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems. When I have an upset stomach I drink Rooibos and it truly works. The brands that you will find in your local supermarket are generally the oxidized version and inexpensive to buy, the green or unprocessed Rooibos is a little harder to find, I’ve only seen it in specialty shops.
Taste and Colour: It tastes slightly sweet with a slightly nutty aftertaste that is mild and pleasing. It brews up dark red or reddish brown.
Brewing Tips: There are few ways to brew Rooibos. Some say to let the tisane steep for 5 or 6 minutes and others will tell you to simmer it for 30 minutes. I’ve tried a few different ways but the way I enjoy it is to use fresh cold water, bring it
to a rapid boil and steep the bag (yes, I typed “bag”, Rooibos bagged tisane tastes the same as loose) for a full 10 minutes even before you take your fist sip. Unlike tea from the camella sinenesis plant this tisane will not turn bitter is you steep it for long periods of time, it only gets better, stronger and darker. When I brew up a cup or pot I just leave the bags in until the liquid is gone. I’ve simmered loose for 30 minutes but didn’t notice much of a difference between leaving the bag in and the boiling method.
A couple of ideas that I’ve tried:
* Have a cold or just plain cold? Take two inches of fresh ginger, peel it, slice it thin and boil it for 10 minutes in 4 cups of water. At the 10 minute mark add a bag of Rooibos.
* Have an upset stomach? Pour boiling water over a bag of Rooibos, add a bag of mint, add a little honey. It can also be poured over ice.
* Make a full pot of Rooibos, add a little honey and after it’s cooled place it in the fridge. Unlike tea that can become bitter Rooibos becomes a littler more nuttier when left in the fridge after a few days. You may also like to add a little lemon.