African Rooibos Tea
Caffeine Free Tisane Buyer's Guide

What should you look for when buying African rooibos tea?



If you don't like caffeine, rooibos is an attractive proposition.

Rich tasting and naturally sweet, it contains high level of antioxidants, and may even have some health benefits for your stomach, liver and allergies.

How do you go about buying this tea?

First, a little background of this little-known herb.

What's It?

The South African people call it rooibos - which means Red Bush.

Like beans and peas, it is actually a member of the legume family. It grows exclusively in the Western Cape province of South Africa, where there is little rainfall, and the soil is sandy and acidic.

Worse of all, the soil has no nitrogen - an essential element for plants. And yet Rooibos thrives in such harsh conditions.

What Are the Signs of Quality?

The higher grades are mostly long, whole, needle-like leaves. The fewer stems, the better.

Also, they should be carefully processed, so that the leaves remain as intact as possible.

Broken, crumbled leaves can give the tea a “dusty” taste.

The aroma should be rich, sweet and complex. The better the dried leaves smell, the better they will taste when you brew it!

Now you know how a high grade looks like, how do you go about buying one?

Loose Leaf or Tea Bags?

Next, consider whether you want loose leaf or tea bags.

Loose leaf is almost always higher quality and tastes better. However, tea bags are more convenient to prepare, since you do not need a tea pot or an infuser.

Where to Buy?

Although buying rooibos tea may be confusing at first, in some ways it is actually easier than purchasing regular tea.

There's no need to learn about different producing regions as the rooibos plant grows exclusively in the Cedarberg region of South Africa.

Around 8,000 tonnes are produced each year, of which just under half is consumed in South Africa and the rest is exported around the world, primarily to Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.

Green or Red?

There are two types of rooibos tea.

Green rooibos is un-oxidized, and retains a pale green color. Red rooibos is more common and popular.

To make red rooibos, the raw tea leaves are crushed and rolled by machine, then left in piles to “sweat.” This gives red rooibos its characteristic mahogany red color and develops its rich, delicious flavor.

Green rooibos has been described as “malty,” while red rooibos is often described as “nutty.”

You can see how the two teas differ by clicking on the Amazon products on the right.

Plan or Flavored?

Finally, consider whether you want plain rooibos or a flavored blend.

It can be flavored with other herbs, fruits or berries, so there is a flavor to satisfy just about every craving. Unlike flavored green tea blends, which usually disguise a lower quality product, flavored rooibos blends often use high-grade leaves.

Now that you know what to look for, why not go discover this rich, flavorful beverage for yourself?

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