It’s been said that history repeats itself and, sure enough, America is hosting another tea party. But this time, the color scheme is different.
Red tea, or rooibos tea, is made from the leaves of the rooibos plant (Aspalathus linearis), which grows exclusively in South Africa. Rooibos tea is now showing up on store shelves everywhere, and for good reason. With antioxidant power to rival that of renowned green tea, rooibos may be beneficial in warding off cancer and cardiovascular disease. In addition, rooibos is rich in minerals and flavonoids, and recent Japanese studies have found it helpful in improving liver function, balancing blood sugar levels and treating skin diseases, constipation, depression and anxiety.
The medicinal effects of rooibos were first discovered when African mothers found the botanical useful in treating children with colic, according to Five Roses Quality Tea Company, the largest tea distributor in South Africa.
While South Africans have been enjoying rooibos tea’s sweet and refreshing taste for more than 200 years, international sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid regime kept it off the American radar. Now, with the sanctions lifted, tea drinkers across the globe have access to this good and good-for-you tea.
—Jessica L. Peterson