My rooibos love affair started when I was just a baby. In the cold winter months my mom would spoil me with a bottle of warm, milky rooibos just before naptime, and on hot summer days I would chill with some cold rooibos, either just as is, or mixed with some fruit juice. Though little research had been done at the time, mothers already recognised the soothing properties of rooibos.
Fast forward many years on, and I’m still a rooibos fan. Besides the naturally sweet taste and beautiful red colour, I love the fact that rooibos is completely caffeine-free. You see, I’m one of those sad people who is sensitive to caffeine, which means coffee and normal tea are out of the question – even though I adore the smell of freshly-brewed coffee.
However, the greatest reason for my love of rooibos is the fact that it’s a proudly South African product (it’s indigenous only to the beautiful Cederberg region in the Western Cape), completely natural and bursting with immune-boosting antioxidants and minerals.
Research over the last decade has proven the therapeutic ability of rooibos to help prevent cancer, protect the liver against disease, lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, reduce insomnia, relieve allergies and treat digestive disorders.
Whereas many South Africans don’t pay any special attention to their daily cup of rooibos, it’s making waves overseas as a nutritional super-hero. You’ll find it on the shelves of many health shops, even if it is often flavoured with vanilla, spice or fruit to disguise the so-called “wild” flavour for our more sensitive overseas cousins – a problem for South Africans abroad who prefer the real taste.
Within a few decades this humble, aromatic shrub has become one of the hottest new trends in the tea and health industry. The next time you sip on a cup of rooibos, take a moment, get comfy and savour every bit of goodness in your cup.
- (Birgit Ottermann, Eat well nutrition newsletter, January 2012)