6 Science-Backed Benefits Of Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tea offers a range of health benefits, from reducing stress to potentially managing diabetes. Its ability to lower blood sugar levels, support heart health, and combat inflammation makes it a valuable addition to a health-conscious diet.
Rooibos Tea Benefits

Key Takeaways

Rooibos Tea Benefits

1. High in Antioxidants

Rooibos tea, a superhero in antioxidants, is rich in flavonoids and phenolic acids, offering a health-boosting profile.

2. Low in Antinutrients

Rooibos tea stands out as a low-tannin and low-oxalic acid alternative, promoting better iron absorption compared to black tea.

3. Boosting Brain and Mental Health

Rooibos tea acts as a brain-boosting ally, combating oxidative stress to protect brain cells and reducing anxiety by regulating cortisol production.

4. Improving Heart Health

Rooibos tea, abundant in heart-boosting flavonoids, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, and reduces oxidative stress, promoting cardiovascular health.

5. Managing Blood Sugar

Red Rooibos tea aids blood sugar control, showcasing lower post-meal blood sugar levels and demonstrating effects comparable to metformin in improving insulin effectiveness.

6. Combating Inflammation

Red rooibos tea acts as an inflammation-fighting superhero by soothing cell inflammation in various conditions and blocking inflammation-causing elements like cytokines, genes, and enzymes.

What is Rooibos

Imagine a time over three centuries ago in the Western Cape of South Africa. Here, indigenous people discovered a unique shrub growing wild. They harvested these shrubs, carefully fermenting and sun-drying them to create a delightful, deep-red tea. Its sweet taste was aptly named rooibos, translating to "red bush" in Afrikaans. [1]

Rooibos tea comes from the Aspalathus linearis plant, exclusively native to South Africa. This remarkable plant has more than 200 varieties, identifiable by their green, needle-like leaves and tiny yellow blossoms.

Fast forward to the 1930s: rooibos began its journey as a cultivated crop. Today, it's a global phenomenon, reaching over 31 countries. For generations, South Africa's locals have turned to red rooibos as a natural remedy for various ailments, including insomnia, anxiety, allergies, asthma, colic in infants, and even to stimulate appetite. [2]

In recent times, the world has fallen in love with rooibos tea. Its caffeine-free nature and many health benefits have made it a worldwide favorite.

High in Antioxidant Content

Rooibos tea is like a superhero in the world of antioxidants. [3] Packed with polyphenols, it's a health enthusiast's dream drink! Here's what makes it so unique:

  • Flavonoids: Rooibos is brimming with flavonoids like aspalathin, chrysoeriol, quercetin, and more. These are nature's little warriors, keeping your body in top shape.
  • Phenolic Acids: This tea also contains phenolic acids such as caffeic and vanillic acid, adding to its health-boosting profile.
  • Rich in Polyphenols: Just one cup of Rooibos can provide up to 80 mg of polyphenols. And guess what? The green, unfermented variety of Rooibos has even more beneficial compounds. [4]
  • Oxidative Stress Fighter: Antioxidants in Rooibos tea are like bodyguards against oxidative stress, which can lead to chronic diseases. Drinking this tea increases antioxidant levels in your blood, giving your body a better chance to fight diseases like diabetes. [5]
  • Liver Health and Inflammation Reduction: Research shows that Rooibos can help heal liver damage and reduce inflammation. It boosts essential antioxidants, like glutathione and superoxide dismutase, crucial for maintaining good health. [6]

Low in Antinutrients

Antinutrients are curious little substances found in many nutritious foods. Sometimes, they like to play the villain by blocking the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals.

For some folks, especially those with sensitivities, antinutrients can even stir up autoimmune reactions.

Both black and green teas have a duo of antinutrients: tannins and oxalic acid. These tannins give your cup of green or black tea that signature sharp, somewhat bitter taste. [7]

But tannins and oxalic acid are not always the good guys. [8] They can mess with how your body absorbs iron, potentially leading to weakened immunity, digestive troubles, and a higher risk of developing kidney stones. [9] [10]

Enter Rooibos tea. Rooibos is low in both tannins and oxalic acid. When healthy young guys drank Rooibos tea, their bodies absorbed iron much better than those who sipped on black tea. We're talking about a significant difference (7.25% iron absorption from Rooibos vs. just 1.7% from black tea)! [11]

Brain and Mental Health

Think of Rooibos tea as a brain-boosting buddy! Studies show this tea can protect brain cells and decrease anxiety by fighting oxidative stress. [12]

Rooibos is a real champ for mental wellness, too. Do you know how stress can throw us off our game? That's because of a hormone called cortisol, which our bodies pump out when stressed. This hormone amps up blood sugar levels and puts our brain on high alert while also fixing damaged tissues.

Here's where Rooibos steps in. It's loaded with compounds like aspalathin and nothofagin that keep cortisol in check. Lab tests even show that these Rooibos superheroes can lower cortisol production. [13]

And there's more. Rooibos is a no-caffeine zone, so it helps keep you chilled out.

Its polyphenols are like relaxation wizards for your blood vessels, easing anxiety and high blood pressure.

Plus, it's a soothing potion for your nerves, great for those feeling irritable, headachy, sleepless, or just plain stressed.

Heart Health

Flavonoids, known for boosting heart health, are abundant in Rooibos tea. Rooibos can help lower blood pressure, making it a spectacular choice for heart health. [14]

Also, this tea's antioxidant compounds help decrease oxidative stress, a crucial factor in heart disease.

Additionally, Rooibos is known to improve cholesterol levels by increasing HDL (good cholesterol) and decreasing LDL (bad cholesterol).

A study involving 40 adults at risk of heart disease showed that drinking Rooibos tea daily for six weeks notably increased blood flavonoid levels and the antioxidant glutathione. This not only improved cholesterol profiles but also lowered blood pressure. [15]

Red Rooibos tea, rich in polyphenols like aspalathin and nothofagin, has been found to reduce inflammation in cells and diabetic subjects, leading to more flexible and less inflamed blood vessels. [16]

Blood Sugar Management

Red Rooibos tea might be the soothing brew with a bonus for blood sugar control! A study showed that people sipping Rooibos tea instead of water after meals enjoyed lower blood sugar levels.

Not just stopping at sugar, Rooibos also tackles insulin and bad cholesterol (LDL) while boosting those good antioxidants. [17]

Also, Rooibos extract, rich in aspalathin, worked wonders. It lowered blood sugar and made insulin more effective. The cool part? This effect was similar to metformin, a common diabetes medication. [18]

Diabetes often brings along unwanted guests like inflammation, increasing risks of heart disease and strokes. But, the polyphenols in red Rooibos, namely aspalathin, and nothofagin, showed they could calm inflammation in diabetic subjects. Rooibos improved their blood vessels, making them more flexible and less inflamed. [19]

Pain and Inflammation

Red rooibos tea, packed with flavonoids like aspalathin and luteolin, is like a superhero for reducing inflammation! Here's how it works its magic.

These flavonoids have shown remarkable effects in soothing cell inflammation, particularly in conditions like liver damage, multiple sclerosis, limb injuries, and heart issues caused by toxins. [20]

Red rooibos tea also blocks certain inflammation-causing elements in our body, including:

  • Cytokines: Cytokines are like the alarm signals (TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-1b, IL-8) that can cause inflammation. [21]
  • Genes & Enzymes: It also tackles specific genes (NF-κB, IκKB) and enzymes (COX-2, iNOS) that cause inflammation and pain. [22]

Safety and Side Effects

Rooibos tea generally comes with a big thumbs-up for safety, boasting no significant side effects. It's almost like a health-hugging, comforting brew!

There was this one-off instance in 2010 where a person drinking heaps of Rooibos experienced an uptick in liver enzymes, suggesting potential liver concerns, but that's quite a rarity. [23]

The golden rule with Rooibos is to enjoy it in moderation. It blends seamlessly into a well-rounded diet.

For pregnant women, Rooibos tea is a fantastic option. It's brimming with beneficial compounds and is happily caffeine-free, making it a suitable companion during pregnancy.

However, it's always best to play it safe and check in with your healthcare provider before introducing Rooibos, or any new item, to your prenatal diet.

Rooibos Tea: Red or Green, Always Caffeine Free

Rooibos tea comes in two delicious varieties, each with its unique flavor:

  • Fermented Rooibos (Red Tea): Imagine a tea that turns a lovely deep red as it ferments. That's red Rooibos for you! It's known for its sweet, fruity flavor and a scent that's rich and nutty. It's like sipping on summer in a cup.
  • Unfermented Rooibos (Green Tea): Then there's the unfermented version, which keeps its green color. This one has an earthy, herbal taste, like green tea, but without the strong bite.

The best part? Both types of Rooibos tea are caffeine-free. So, whether you want to cut down on caffeine or just want a calming drink, Rooibos is a perfect choice.

Rooibos Tea Recipes

  1. Rooibos Tea Latte
  • Brew a strong cup of rooibos tea.
  • Heat and froth your choice of milk (dairy or plant-based).
  • Pour the frothy milk into the brewed tea.
  • Sweeten to taste and sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg for a cozy finish.
  1. Iced Rooibos Tea with Orange, Cloves, and Cinnamon
  • Brew rooibos tea and let it cool.
  • Add orange slices, a few cloves, and a cinnamon stick to the tea.
  • Chill in the refrigerator.
  • Serve over ice for a refreshing, spiced drink.
  1. Red Rooibos Iced Tea
  • Steep rooibos tea in hot water and let it cool.
  • Add lemon slices and a few mint leaves for a zesty twist.
  • Sweeten with honey or sugar if desired.
  • Refrigerate until cold and serve over ice for a simple, invigorating beverage.

Enjoy these versatile rooibos tea recipes, perfect for any mood or occasion!


Rooibos tea, with its rich history and diverse health benefits, is more than just a beverage.

This caffeine-free, low-tannin tea is a treasure trove of antioxidants, offering a range of health benefits, from reducing stress to potentially managing diabetes. Its ability to lower blood sugar levels, support heart health, and combat inflammation makes it a valuable addition to a health-conscious diet.

Rooibos tea comes in two delightful varieties: the earthy green, unfermented tea, and the sweet, fruity red fermented tea. Both are naturally caffeine-free, making them an excellent choice for people looking to reduce their caffeine intake or seeking a calming beverage.

Additional Readings

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[1]HerbalGram: Rooibos Tea: Research into Antioxidant and Antimutagenic Properties

[2]Rooibos tea,aspalathus linearis, a caffeineless, low-tannin beverage | Economic Botany (springer.com)

[3]Quantitative characterization of flavonoid compounds in Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) by LC-UV/DAD - PubMed (nih.gov)

[4]Quantitative Characterization of Flavonoid Compounds in Rooibos Tea (Aspalathus linearis) by LC−UV/DAD | Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (acs.org)

[5]Therapeutic Effects of Quercetin on Inflammation, Obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes - PubMed (nih.gov)

[6]Amelioration of lipopolysaccharide-induced liver injury by aqueous rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) extract via inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress - PubMed (nih.gov)

[7]Diet-derived phenols in plasma and tissues and their implications for health - PubMed (nih.gov)

[8]Are tannins a double-edged sword in biology and health? - ScienceDirect

[9]Oxalate: effect on calcium absorbability - PubMed (nih.gov)

[10]Oxalate: from the environment to kidney stones - PubMed (nih.gov)

[11][The effect of rooibos tea on iron absorption] - PubMed (nih.gov)

[12]Long-term consumption of fermented rooibos herbal tea offers neuroprotection against ischemic brain injury in rats - PubMed (nih.gov)

[13]Rooibos influences glucocorticoid levels and steroid ratios in vivo and in vitro: a natural approach in the management of stress and metabolic disorders? - PubMed (nih.gov)

[14]The role of polyphenols in cardiovascular disease - PubMed (nih.gov)

[15]Effects of rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) on oxidative stress and biochemical parameters in adults at risk for cardiovascular disease - PubMed (nih.gov)

[16]How hyperglycemia promotes atherosclerosis: molecular mechanisms | Cardiovascular Diabetology | Full Text (biomedcentral.com)

[17]Aspalathin improves hyperglycemia and glucose intolerance in obese diabetic ob/ob mice - PubMed (nih.gov)

[18]Acute assessment of an aspalathin-enriched green rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) extract with hypoglycemic potential - PubMed (nih.gov)

[19]Aspalathin and Nothofagin from Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) inhibits high glucose-induced inflammation in vitro and in vivo - PubMed (nih.gov)

[20]Amelioration of lipopolysaccharide-induced liver injury by aqueous rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) extract via inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress - PubMed (nih.gov)

[21]Effects of rooibos tea extract on antigen-specific antibody production and cytokine generation in vitro and in vivo - PubMed (nih.gov)

[22]Functional diversity of flavonoids in the inhibition of the proinflammatory NF-kappaB, IRF, and Akt signaling pathways in murine intestinal epithelial cells - PubMed (nih.gov)

[23]Possible hepatotoxic effect of rooibos tea: a case report - PubMed (nih.gov)

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