How to Make Rooibos Tea: 6 Ways to Ice or Brew
Rooibos or red bush is a South African plant used for making herbal tea. It’s caffeine-free, full of antioxidants and potential health benefits, with light, sweet and earthy flavor. Because of its many benefits and non-intrusive light flavor it’s commonly used as a base for many delicious herbal blends.
Unlike other teas or herbs, rooibos grows only in one country—South Africa. This indigenous plant is used for making green or non-fermented and red or fermented tea. Although rooibos has a long history, westerners “discovered” it in the late 20th century. It didn’t take long after the first introduction for this caffeine free tea to conquer the world and become one of the favorite herbal teas ever. Check out 7 reasons why rooibos is the best herbal tea in the world.
In fact, this tea is so important in the South African culture that it has its own national day celebrated on January 16th. Tea in tea producing countries is often used as a sign of hospitality. South Africa is not different. “Normal or rooibos?” is a question you would hear entering someones home, implying that rooibos never was and never will be just an ordinary tea.
There are a few ways how you can enjoy this special herbal tea, without sacrificing flavor or benefits:
- Regular steeping
- Making rooibos latte
- Sun brewing rooibos tea
- Making iced tea
- Preparing rooibos syrup that can be used as an ingredient in many recipes and cocktails
- Blending your own red detox tea
Do drink a cup of rooibos tea while you still can. Because of a very small area where rooibos is growing and unsuccessful attempts to grow it elsewhere, rooibos might become extinct in future. Next time when you drink a cup of rooibos tea, enjoy it fully.
6 ways to make rooibos tea
1. Regular steeping
The best thing about rooibos, after the sweet earthly flavor is the ease of steeping. Most real loose leaf tea will require patience and learning if you want to avoid bitterness, especially green tea. Rooibos is different. It doesn’t contain caffeine, EGCg or tannins, all bitter components of real tea. However, rooibos does have a lot of antioxidants. If you want to maximize the benefits of rooibos tea, brew it with boiling water for at least 5-8 minutes. Rooibos tea leaves are very small, so you will need a fine-mesh strainer, linen filters or French press to make brewing as easy as possible. Another way is to simmer it in a pot for 20-30 minutes, and serving with a dash of milk.
2. Rooibos latte
Enjoying rooibos latte in the evening is one of the best ways to end a day. Rooibos may reduce the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Pure rooibos is naturally sweet and doesn’t require sugar. You can experiment with different blends as well, enjoying dozens of different latte flavors. Our favorite? Sweet and spicy blends like Phoenix Mills and Coconut Chai. To get a perfect cup of rooibos latte, brew double the amount of tea leaves in 50-100 ml of water, strain and top up with warmed frothed milk.
3. Sun-brewed rooibos
Sun-brewing is a fun way to effortlessly brew and enjoy tea in summer. All you need is a jar, tea leaves and sun. Just like black tea, rooibos is suitable for sun brewing. Place tea leaves in a clean jar and top up with fresh spring water. Let it steep in the sun for a couple of hours. Use about 10 grams of leaves per ½ gallon of water. Make sure to refrigerate it when it’s brewed.
4. Iced rooibos
You can make rooibos iced tea in two ways—by cold-brewing or using hot-brewed infusion with a lot of ice. It contains no caffeine, so it’s a perfect summer drink for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and anyone over-sensitive to caffeine. Read our guide on making iced tea for the best flavor. Our choice? Banana Delight and Herbal Pinacolada with tropical fruits, coconut and light summer flavors.
5. Rooibos syrup
Rooibos syrup can be used for making cocktails, desserts, shaved ice or mixed with water and ice, as a refreshing summer drink. Use about 10 grams of pure of flavored rooibos loose leaf tea, ½ liter of water, 30 grams of honey and 300 grams of sugar. Add more tea leaves for more flavor. If you are using pure tea, spice it up with cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, vanilla or other spices. Put all ingredients into a pan and simmer until you get a thick syrup.
6. Rooibos detox tea
Every tea drinker occasionally tries a detox tea. Detox tea is usually best avoided—especially if you don’t know the ingredients and want to avoid laxative and diuretic effect that won’t help you lose weight, but lose fluids instead. But, with rooibos you can make your own safer version of a detox tea. Rooibos is usually included into detox blends because it may promote weight loss and contains high level of antioxidants. Blend it with burdock root, dandelion or milk thistle for detox effects.
 Sarah Fleming Ives: Steeped in Heritage: The Racial Politics of South African Rooibos Tea