Rooibos tea: Even healthier than green tea?

By: Catherine Ebeling 
Co-author of the best-sellers:  The Fat Burning KitchenThe Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging & The Diabetes Fix

Rooibos tea is gaining popularity around the world as a delicious, healthy, and calming drink. Rooibos tea comes from deep in South Africa, and it has been used for centuries for good health amongst the Africans—and for good reason!

Rooibos (pronounced Ruy-bos) has been shown to protect against cancer, reduce inflammation, help prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure, and even calm babies. And because it does not contain caffeine, like green and black tea, it is a safe and soothing drink to have before bedtime, and you can drink as much as you want. Many South Africans drink 5-6 cups of Rooibos a day.

One of the best health benefits of Rooibos is its mineral content including magnesium, which is essential for so many people who are deficient in the mineral. Magnesium is calming to the nervous system and the blood vessels, helping to regulate heart beat, and lower blood pressure. It also contains calcium, zinc and manganese which are vital for bones and teeth, as well as iron, which helps to supply red blood cells and oxygen to the body. One of the wonderful things about getting  your minerals from a natural food is that they all exist in perfect balance to help you absorb them best. The magnesium helps you absorb the calcium and the copper helps you absorb its iron.

Black, green and rooibos tea all contain polyphenols—the powerful antioxidants that make tea the super-powered drink that it is. But, rooibos tea contains almost 50% more polyphenols than even green tea! Two of the polyphenols that are found in high concentrations in rooibos are aspalathin, and nothogagin, as well as quercetin. These antioxidants fight free radicals which are the unstable cells that can cause disease. Aspalathin is only found in rooibos!

Aspalthin has been found to be full of anti-cancer compounds—so much so that the Cancer Association of South Africa has officially recognized it as one of the leading sources of cancer-fighting substances. In one study done on mice with cancer, the cancer disappeared in the mice who drank rooibos instead of water! Another study found that applying Rooibos compound to mice with skin cancer reduced tumors by 70%. Rooibos is so effective that many cosmetics and skin care products are starting to add it to their products.

Rooibos’ benefits go far beyond just preventing cancer. Rooibos tea contains a flavonoid called chrysoeriol that improves blood circulation. A Swedish study shows that it helps to inhibit ACE, a physical chemical that constricts blood vessels and is linked to blood pressure. One of the key factors in detecting heart disease has to do with two blood markers that indicate inflammation in the blood vessels. Study participants who drank 6 cups of Rooibos a day for six weeks showed a 50% reduction!

Rooibos’ powerful antioxidants also reduce inflammation which is the root cause for many diseases including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimier’s and diabetes. Rooibos works better than one of the most powerful pharmaceutical pain relievers, Vioxx—without the dangerous side effects.

Rooibos is very calming to the digestive system—in fact, Rooibos is so gentle and soothing that many mothers in South Africa use the tea to soothe colic in babies. The quercetin it contains makes it also good for indigestion, stomach cramps, and upset stomach for grownups as well.

Most of the Rooibos tea that we see in the U.S., is the fermented type, which makes it appear reddish-brown. Unfermented green rooibos tea is also available, although more difficult to find, but it does contain higher levels of antioxidants. Red Rooibos has a delicious, light, nutty and sweet flavor and you can purchase it loose or in tea bags. Let the brew steep for 5 minutes or more to get its full strength effect. By the way, adding milk to tea can reduce the availability of certain antioxidants, so it is better to drink plain or with just a touch of honey or organic maple syrup.

Here’s a really interesting rooibos recipe from my friend and fitness expert, Danette May, that I think you’ll LOVE…

Healthy Vanilla Coconut Rooibos Tea (crushes cravings for sweets while delivering large amounts of antioxidants)

Baba H. (March, 2009). Studies of anti-inflammatory effects of Rooibos tea in rats. Pediatr Int. 51(5):700-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-200X.2009.02835.x. Retrieved from
Brown, M.J., RD. Rooibos Tea—5 Health Benefits, Side Effects and More. Authority Nutrition. Retrieved
Hong IS1. (January, 2014). Anti-oxidative effects of Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) on immobilization-induced oxidative stress in rat brain. PLoS One. Retrieved from
Komatsu, Kator, Mitsuda, Mine, Okumura.( (February, 1994). Inhibitory effects of Rooibos tea, Aspalathus linealis, on X-ray-induced C3H10T12 cell transformation. Retrieved from
Marnewick JL. (November, 2000). An investigation on the antimutagenic properties of South African herbal teas. Mutat Res.;471(1-2):157-66. Retrieved from
Marnewick J.(December 2014). Inhibition of tumour promotion in mouse skin by extracts of Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia), unique South African herbal teas. Retrieved from
Persson, I.A., et al. (February, 2010). Effects of green tea, black tea and Rooibos tea on angiotensin-converting enzyme and nitric oxide in healthy volunteers. Retrieved from
Revensthrope, M. (September, 2013). The amazing health benefits of rooibos tea. Natural News. Retrieved from
Sears, A., M.D., (2016). Rooibos, better than green tea for many reasons. Al Sears MD. Retrieved from

About The Watchdog

Mike Geary has been a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for over 15 years now. He has been studying nutrition and exercise for almost 25 years, ever since being a young teenager. Mike is originally from Pennsylvania, but has fallen in love with mountain life and now resides in the picturesque mountains of Utah. Mike is an avid adventurist and when he’s not spending his time skiing, mountain biking, hiking, or paddleboarding on the lake, he has enjoyed skydiving, whitewater rafting, piloting an Italian fighter plane (seriously), scuba diving, heli-skiing, and traveling all around the world, enjoying learning about different cultures. At the age of 40, Mike now feels healthier, stronger, and more energetic than when he was 20... All because of a healthy lifestyle and great nutrition!

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  1. I read a few days ago that rooibos tea is the ONLY source of SOD (super oxide dismutase) that can be easily taken up by humans. that’s good news. I have been drinking rooibos tea for 50 years. Be sure to buy only the certified organic brands. Some brands particularly from South Africa are irradiated!

  2. Good info provided which makes one more healthier. Thank you for your good services.

  3. What brands are the best to purchase? I’m most interested in buying the teabags.

  4. Rooibos sounds most interesting.

  5. I love this tea. When my daughter went to Africa for a year, this was one of my Christmas gifts she sent back to me. I really liked it when I first tried it and now seem to crave it. I knew it had health benefits but not to the extent of what your blog said. I have it on hand all the time and get mine from South Africa.

  6. Pronounced Roi-bos, using the oi slang.

  7. Is it possible to grow these tea leave in my own home (inside) or on my balcony? What sort of climate do they best grow in?
    Is it okay to drink while breastfeeding and/or pregnant?

    • No it is indigenous to south africa. Grow wild in the Cape province… it is fine to drink it while you are pregnant and or breastfeeding. Excellent for babies.

  8. Is it possible to grow these tea leaves in my own home? (inside or outside?)
    Is it okay to drink while breastfeeding/pregnant?

    • Ruth, Rooibos tea is the safest thing to drink for pregnancy and for babies, even if mother’s milk is not available, this tea makes the best substitute. It is really a health tonic and illness preventative for babies, men and women at any time.

  9. I live in Manila. I suffer from hypertension and diabetes and had a mastectomy on my left breast in December 2000. They say I’m cured, but with cancer, one never really knows. I take green tea but if Rooibus has more health benefits, I’d gladly switch to it. May I know if it is available in Manila, and if so, where may I find it here? what are the good brands? How much is it?

    • I ordered mine from amazon. I just started drinking it a couple of months ago. It is very different do very refreshing. Check amazon , the one I bought is fully organic and chemical free. Also the bags are not even bleached. I wish you luck and take care.

  10. Fine, but what do you think it will really do. If it had all of those benefits there would be no cancer and we would all look 25 and be 100 years old.

  11. My mother has congestive heart failure and is on Warfarin. She in not allowed to drink green tea, is red tea okay for her?

  12. Rooibos means Red bush,we started drinking it in Surinam,and we love it !!

  13. I use Rooibos tea and find it does help lower blood sugar, but I keep forgetting to use it. I used it more over 10 years ago. I still recommend it. I have a whole box in my kitchen now.

  14. Where can i get the Rooibos Tea. Am in Kenya ,Central County of Nyeri

  15. Good to know Rooibos contains so many minerals have been drinking it for years and prefer it to any other tea! Jo

  16. I have read many articles about this tea. It must be good for you. I will look for it on my next trip to the store.

  17. I live in Wakefield, Ma. Where can I find rooibus tea?? I I’ve never seen it at the supermarket

    • You can definitely buy it online if not available in a local store.

      • Hi Suzanne
        It is at shaws, stop and shop, Whole Foods, health food stores, Big Y, market basket… twinges is good there are many but some do taste better than others. I realize you posted this several years ago.. hope you have found one you prefer. If not plz email and I will share a few other brands.

    • i get mine at whole foods – it is in a tall round canister and the tea bags are unbleached;
      “The Republic of Tea, Double Red Rooibos”

  18. What about matcha being healthier than regular green tea — although maybe still not healthier than the rooibus?

  19. Merelina Ponsonby

    I have a big thermos of 1 1/2 litre. Every night I put ONE Rooibus tea bag in the thermos, with several slices of FRESH root ginger. I put a little boiling water on this and let it steep overnight. In the morning I fill up my thermos with boiling water. This lasts me all day, and no boiling of the kettle during the day. It sits by my desk. Friends who try it simply LOVE it and go out and buy their own thermos. One bag is enough to make a not too strong tea after has steeped. Never gets too strong or black either.

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