What Is Rooibos Tea and How Do You Pronounce It?

Do you drink tea? I’m more of a coffee drinker myself, but once in a while, nothing beats a good cup of the stuff. If I’m feeling under the weather, herbal tea is just the thing to help with a sore throat. If I need a little pick-me-up with less caffeine than coffee or a cola, black tea is a great option. And a hot cup of green tea is a perfect complement to a Chinese meal. Of course, there are many, many types of tea. You’re probably familiar with a bunch of them: jasmine, oolong, peppermint, Earl Grey, and on and on. But one that perhaps you haven’t heard of—I certainly hadn’t—is rooibos tea. What is rooibos tea, exactly? What does rooibos tea taste like? Where does it come from? Let’s get the tea on this delightful drink.  

What is rooibos tea?

Rooibos, which is also known as Aspalathus linearis, is a plant that is cultivated in Southern regions of Africa. There, it’s been used for generations, but in the U.S. and other markets, rooibos has only started to catch on in the last few years as an alternative to other forms of tea. It can also be called bush tea or red tea.

The name “rooibos” is Afrikaans and comes from the Dutch phrase “rood bos,” which means “red forest,” due to the plant’s reddish hue.  

How to pronounce rooibos tea?

If you’ve been reading this article so far completely unsure of how to say “rooibos,” you’re not alone. I also was not sure of the pronunciation when I first started writing this article. Luckily, we have internet resources: According to Wikipedia, it’s ROY-BOSS, but according to Google’s pronunciation website, it’s closer to ROY-BOWS. 

Does rooibos tea have caffeine?

Nope! Rooibos is 100% caffeine-free, meaning that it’s a good option for a warm, relaxing bedtime drink that won’t keep you buzzing after hours. 

What is rooibos tea good for?

Rooibos is very high in vitamin C, so if you’re trying to avoid a cold, or just up your ascorbic acid intake, it’s a good bet. In addition, rooibos is lower in tannins than black tea or green tea, so it may be easier on the digestive system. 

The high antioxidant content in rooibos is also considered beneficial—advocates say that increased antioxidant intake can help prevent a host of diseases such as cancer and heart disease, though the evidence for this is not concrete. In any event, if you’re trying to load up on antioxidants, rooibos is a great option.

What does rooibos tea taste like?

Rooibos has been described as having a rich, earthy flavor, and a comparison point could be yerba mate, or even tobacco. If the flavor profile sounds a little intense and you don’t want to drink it straight up, you can have it much in the way you would other teas—with milk, honey, sugar, or lemon. It can also be incorporated into a latte or cappuccino-style drink. 

And that’s a cup full of info about rooibos tea. Happy sipping!

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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