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Africa may be very famous for its delicious coffee, but where there is coffee, there is often tea too. And the one that comes from Africa is delicious, strong and very unique.

Imagine hot weather, rich dark red soil, tropical and sub-tropical climates and a lot of sun. That’s exactly how many African teas taste like – delicious, earthy, and hiding a very special warm character. Real or herbal, they always hide a bit of hot weather and climate in beautiful leaves and intense colors.

Where is tea produced in Africa?

Africa is a home of many teas – from herbal rooibos and honey bush, native to South Africa, to white, green, oolong, black and even dark fermented tea. Although pure African real tea is not as easy to find as Chinese or Indian tea, it’s often included in many tea blends. For example, English Breakfast. Interestingly, Kenya is one of the biggest tea producers in the world, right after China and Japan[1]. Other tea producing countries in Africa are Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Malawi, Burundi, Mozambique, Cameroon, Congo and even Mauritius.

Top African Real Teas to Try

What we call real teas are teas made from the Camellia sinensis plant. All real teas – white, yellow, green, oolong, black and dark are made from the same plant. The difference? How they are processed. Africa is still producing mostly black tea, but other types are available too.

1. Kenyan purple tea

Kenyan purple tea is a new type of tea created by the Kenyan Tea Research Foundation. Purple tea is not a special type of tea – it’s a special cultivar that can be used for making, for example, green or black tea. Why purple? Because the tea leaves contain high levels of anthocyanin, a special pigment that gives color to fruits and vegetables such as acai berries or purple cabbage. It has a high free radical scavenging rate, even higher than green tea[2]. Kenyan purple tea benefits include help with weight loss, brain protection from neurodegenerative diseases[3] and an anti-cancer activity. Teas to try? African Purple or Purple Jasmine.

2. Kenyan black tea

There are many types of Kenyan black tea. Many of them are strong, hearty and smooth, and a great choice for breakfast tea time. Kenya is the third largest tea producer in the world. Many of the teas are produced using the CTC or Cut Tear and Curl method and have small pellet-shaped leaves. It doesn’t surprise that a traditional drink in Kenya is chai too – made with black tea, milk and sugar.

3. Rwandan tea

Rwanda is a very interesting country in the tea world. Although small, it produces delicious high grown tea including black, green and white. Rwanda is probably one of the most artisanal tea producers in Africa, and the one very new to tea production. The history of Rwandan tea is not long – it started only 70 years ago[4]. 72% percent of tea produced in Rwanda is high-grown, making it delicious, fresh and complex[5].

4. Ethiopian Tea

Ethiopia is well known for its coffee, but it produces great tea too. Tea production in Ethiopia started only a bit less than 100 years ago. Interestingly, tea is not a majorly important product–but tea drinking is. Spiced tea is very popular, and it can be made with or without black tea, and always without milk or sugar.

Top African Herbal Teas to Try

Africa is the home of two most delicious herbal teas in the world – rooibos or red bush and honey bush, both coming from South Africa. Both rooibos and honey bush are available in two styles – fermented and unfermented. Or red and green.

5. Red Rooibos

The ultimate African herbal drink that grows exclusively in South Africa has won many hearts around the world over the last few decades. In fact, it was mostly unknown in the United States until about 20 years ago. Redbush tea is often described as one of the healthiest herbal beverages in the world, and the one with the prettiest color too. Red rooibos have a high levels of antioxidants, no caffeine and is suitable for all age groups. It’s strong and earthy, which makes it perfect for blending with every possible spice, fruit, flower or – chocolate. Benefits of rooibos tea include boosting immune system,[6] lowering blood pressure and blood sugar levels[7], reducing stress[8] and many other benefits.

6. Green Rooibos

Green rooibos is a fresher, unfermented type of rooibos tea. Just like the red one, it’s made from the plant called Aspalathus linearis. Green rooibos usually contains higher levels of antioxidants. Think of green and red rooibos as a herbal caffeine free versions of green and black tea. They both have a wide range of benefits, but the green may provide more antioxidans than the red one. Green rooibos has a fresher, lightly sweet flavor that can sometimes be similar to green tea. Unlike green tea, it’s naturally caffeine free and has no bitterness at all, even if you over-brew it. Both green and red tea are perfect for making iced tea too.

7. Honey Bush

Honey bush tea looks very similar to the rooibos tea. This South African herbal tea is made from Cyclopia plant species. It’s a bit more brownish than rooibos and has a similar flavor with less earthiness and more woodiness. Honey bush contains no caffeine and it may provide many health benefits. Interestingly, just like the red tea, honey bush has been available for only two decades[9]. And what are the benefits? Studies showed that honey bush may show anti inflammatory activity, help protect the bones,[10] may help boost the immune system, ease heartburn and nausea and offer soothing properties[11].

Top traditional tea drinks to try

8. North African Mint tea

North African Mint tea is a tea so well-known we often forget it comes from Africa too. It’s served throughout North Africa, for example Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania and other countries. Depending on the country, it may contain other ingredients too, such as pine nuts. It’s sweet and made with a lot of fresh mint. However, the green tea used in mint tea comes from China.

9. Ethiopian Spiced tea

Unlike the regular spiced tea with black tea leaves and milk, the one from Ethiopia doesn’t contain milk. The usual ingredients are Ethiopian black tea, black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and ginger.

Dislaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Every person is different and may react to different herbs and teas differently. Never use teas or herbs to treat serious medical conditions on your own. Always seek professional medical advice before choosing home remedies.

References:

[1] https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-worlds-top-10-tea-producing-nations.html

[2] https://www.longdom.org/open-access/purple-tea-composition-and-inhibitory-effect-of-anthocyaninrich-extracton-cancer-cell-proliferation-2167-0412-1000322.pdf

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4502735/

[4] https://www.jetro.go.jp/ext_images/world/africa/seminar_reports/pdf/20121129_Rwanda.pdf

[5] https://www.jetro.go.jp/ext_images/world/africa/seminar_reports/pdf/20121129_Rwanda.pdf

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967803/

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3866779/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24022885

[9] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0254629919308336

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4661614/

[11] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273083376_Fact_Sheet_on_Honeybush_Tea

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