Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) or Red Tea Benefits & Side Effects

Rooibos Tea health benefits and side effects


Rooibos tea or Red tea is not actually tea. It is a beverage indigenous to South Africa. Rooibos tea is obtained from the leaves and stems of the plant Aspalathus linearis.

Rooibos tea is further categorized into three types

  • Unfermented rooibos
  • Semi-fermented rooibos
  • Fermented rooibos.

What makes Rooibos tea so special and an excellent substituent for normal tea?

Normal tea like Green tea and Black tea are rich in antioxidants but are also have caffeine and tannins. The side effects of caffeine and tannins are given in article Tea: Facts and MythsOn contrary to this Rooibos tea contains polyphenol antioxidants but with no caffeine and very little tannins. In short, we can say that it has all the properties of tea minus its harmful side effects.

The comparison of teas in terms of antioxidant activity is as follows

Green tea > Unfermented rooibos tea > Fermented rooibos tea > Semifermented rooibos tea > Black Tea > Oolong Tea (1).

What are the main components of Rooibos tea?

Unfermented rooibos tea has more polyphenolic compounds in comparison to fermented one. Rooibos tea is mainly popular because of its phenolic content and antioxidant activity.

What are the health benefits of Rooibos tea?

1. Caffeine-free

Rooibos tea is caffeine-free (4). Therefore, this tea helps in relaxing the body and induces sleep. Drinking rooibos tea before going to bed helps in reducing tension and also helps in inducing proper sleep.

2. Stressbuster

Research from the Scientists at Stellenbosch University showed that rooibos helps in reducing the stress of daily life.

3. Protects against Neurodegenerative diseases

Rooibos tea contains the highest amount of antioxidant after green tea (1). Antioxidants are the key components to protect against stress. As we all know that stress is a modern generation disease. Rooibos tea helps in the reduction of free radicals which are the main cause of many neurodegenerative diseases.

Fact: Although experiments are done on animal models (rats) by mimic physiological stress. But rooibos tea does increases master antioxidant glutathione, which acts as a stress detoxifier of the brain (5).

4. Nutritive

Drinking rooibos tea helps in addition to minerals. Rooibos tea contains small amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, and potassium which may add to the nutritive value (2).

5. Effect of Rooibos tea on iron absorption

Like other tea such as green tea and black tea which causes foliate deficiency (hinders in iron absorption) (Main article green tea), Rooibos tea, on the other hand, does not affect iron absorption.

Fact:  Rooibos tea in contrary contains a small amount of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium chloride and potassium (2). Therefore, adds to the nutritive value.

6. Healthy heart

Drinking tea helps in strengthening heart muscles.

Fact: On the basis of studies from diabetic rats, it was concluded that the water extract of fermented rooibos tea protects cardiomyocytes (heart muscles) (3).

7. Prevention of Stroke

According to research done by the Department of Medical Biosciences, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa, rooibos tea can protect ischemic brain injury to some extent.

Fact: The Analysis of whole‑brain homogenates of rat showed a significant increase in total antioxidant capacity and reduction in lipid peroxide which results in improve neurobehavioral outcomes (6).

8. Regulate blood pressure

Rooibos tea helps in normalization of blood pressure, therefore, it is effective for the people who have high blood pressure.


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