Medicinal plants

Rooibos - origin, effect and application

Rooibos - origin, effect and application

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Rooibos consists of the leaves and branches of the green bush native to South Africa Aspalathus linearisthat turn reddish-golden during fermentation. The tea-like drink is very popular in Germany and is suitable as an alternative to black tea for people who cannot tolerate oxalic acid and tannins.

Profile of Rooibos

  • Scientific name: Aspalathus linearis
  • Common names: Germanized Rotbusch, Roibusch, Roiibusch, Rotbuschsie, Koopmanstee, Redbos, Massaitee, Buschmanntee
  • Family: Legumes (Fabaceae)
  • distribution: South Africa, Cedar Mountains north of Cape Town
  • Plant parts used: Leaves and branches
  • Applications:
    • sleep disorders
    • stress
    • Strengthen the immune system
    • Stabilization of the blood vessels
    • Inflammation

Rooibos - an overview

  • Rooibos tea is traded globally, but is only grown regionally in the mountains of South Africa, near Cape Town.
  • It is a traditional indigenous remedy and drink.
  • It is not only suitable for drinking, but also for cooking and skin care.
  • Unlike black tea, red bush tea does not contain caffeine.
  • Strictly speaking, rooibos is not a tea, but a tea-like drink. According to the ISO standard, real teas are only infusions of the types of tea Camellia sinensis and Camellia assamica.
  • It contains valuable minerals and flavonoids and is therefore an ideal drink for athletes.
  • Rooibos tea contains no caffeine and has a natural sweetness - making it particularly suitable for children.


Rooibos contains numerous medically effective substances such as phenols and flavonoids. The flavonoids include:

  • Luteolin,
  • Aspalathine,
  • Isoorientin,
  • Orientin,
  • Rutin,
  • Isovitexin
  • and Vitexin.

Compared to the tea bush, rooibos contains no caffeine and only a few tannins. The following are present in minerals and trace elements:

  • Iron,
  • Fluorine,
  • Potassium,
  • Calcium,
  • Copper,
  • Magnesium,
  • Manganese,
  • zinc
  • and sodium.

The leaves and branches contain a total of 99 essential oils. Its taste comes from two flavonoids that sweeten it without sugar. Research has proven the antioxidant, cleansing and antispasmodic effects of rooibos.

Rooibos tea - suspected effects

Supporters of the superfood Rooibos suspect the tea has positive effects in:

  • high cholesterol,
  • Circulatory problems,
  • Hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis),
  • Heart disease,
  • Diabetes,
  • Hay fever,
  • Gastric ulcers,
  • Psychoses,
  • Gout,
  • Asthma,
  • Cancer,
  • viral infections
  • and inflammation of the prostate.

Medical effects

Rooibos is a traditional remedy. The bioactive effects of many substances in the plant have been proven. It is controversial whether and how and at what point these substances become active in the human organism after consuming the tea. A study from South Africa showed that rooibos tea in combination with conventional antimicrobial agents can be partly indifferent and partly reinforcing.

Positive no effects

The non-effects of red bush tea are important for high-risk patients: people who suffer from kidney stones can drink it well because it does not contain oxalic acid. If you suffer from iron deficiency, you can take rooibos instead of real tea, since it contains hardly any tannins, which slow down the absorption of iron.


Rooibos contains a variety of minerals. Since these are only present in small amounts in the boiled leaves, they have little effect on our health.

Heart and circulation

Various polyphenols in the rooibos have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system and possibly drinking the tea can prevent heart diseases, strokes and hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis).

The flavonoid luteolin slows down the activity of the osteoclasts. These are cells that are responsible for the breakdown of the bone substance, which leads to bone loss (osteoporosis). Conversely, luteolin promotes the action of osteoblast cells, which promote the formation of new bones.

DNA protection?

Flavonoids have an antioxidant effect and fight excess oxygen in the body. By doing so, they prevent damage to the DNA, which could trigger mutations that promote the formation of cancer.


The flavonoids quercetin and luteolin inhibit inflammation and can prevent diseases caused by inflammation. Quercetin also promotes the release of the hormone serotonin, which is also known as the happiness hormone. Traditionally, people drink rooibos tea to lighten their mood. This effect may be due to the quercetin content. This flavonoid also lowers the stress level.

Aspalathine relieves cramps and that could explain why rooibos tea is traditionally used for colic and stomach cramps. In addition, the flavonoid rutin strengthens small blood vessels and vessel walls, thus preventing thrombosis, varicose veins and strokes.

Does rooibos promote sleep?

Unlike black tea, green tea and coffee, rooibos tea does not contain caffeine. In this respect, it can also be drunk shortly before going to bed. However, red bush tea does not have a sleep-promoting effect, so it is not a herbal sleeping pill.

Red bush tea - production

Rooibos only grows on sandy soils in the Cedar Mountains, which is around 200 kilometers north of Cape Town. The cultivation itself and the production of the rooibos are uncomplicated compared to black and green tea. Between January and April the branches and the leaves are cut. However, this is manual work, because machines can hardly be used in the sandy highlands.

The branches and leaves are moistened with water, crushed and spread out. During this process, they ferment and the originally green “red bush” turns reddish brown. The plant material now only needs to be dried and pasteurized, then it is ready for packaging.

The triumphal march of the rooibos

The Swede Carl Thunberg wrote in 1772 that the Khoisan made tea from a "good plant" in South Africa. In 1904 the Russian Benjamin Ginsberg traveled to the Cedar Mountains. Ginsberg came from a family of tea dealers and when he saw that the people on the spot were making tea from a shrub that served health, he tried it himself and was thrilled. He was the first to organize the export of the red bush tea and his family became the market leader.

To date, rooibos is only grown in the region of its natural origin, around the cities of Clanwilliam and Citrusdal, because its special habitat makes it unsuitable for global production. The cedar mountains have wet winters and hot dry summers, in which about 300 to 350 milliliters of rain fall, plus a sandy bottom with red-brown stones (“koffie klips”). All attempts to grow rooibos under similar conditions, for example in Australia, failed. Annual production is around 12,000 tons today, around 90 percent of the harvest is for export, and Germany is the main customer with around 50 percent.

Rooibos tea for the garden

It is wasteful to throw the remains of the rooibos in the trash after drinking. Its minerals make it an excellent fertilizer for indoor and garden plants. If tea is left over while drinking, do not tip it over. Use it to water plants.

Rooibos in the kitchen

In South Africa, rooibos is not only drunk as tea, but also used for cooking. It is suitable for adding flavor to cakes, cookies or bread and gives desserts with nuts, chocolate or vanilla a unique note. Rooibos tastes particularly good in ice cream, and even in a soup made of pumpkin or lentils it brings an interesting variant with its taste.

What does Rotbusch fit for?

Rooibos tea adapts perfectly to various flavors, for example

  • Strawberry,
  • Cherry,
  • Mint,
  • Bergamot,
  • vanilla
  • or cream.

It harmonizes with

  • Ginger,
  • Cinnamon,
  • Cardamom,
  • Citrus,
  • Elder,
  • Plum,
  • Apple,
  • Coriander,
  • Cumin,
  • Curry,
  • Cane sugar
  • and brown rum.

Since it contains no caffeine, it can be drawn for a long time and because of the small amount of tannins, it does not taste bitter or bitter. It is best to leave the leaves and twigs in the hot water for ten minutes.

In winter, rooibos goes well with mulled wine and rum punch. Together with orange peel, orange juice, cane sugar and spices such as pepper and anise, it is also well suited to making an alcohol-free punch. In summer it makes an excellent iced tea, for example in combination with

  • Grape juice,
  • Pineapple juice,
  • Apple juice,
  • Lime juice,
  • Orange slices,
  • Strawberries
  • or peaches.

Rooibos for skin and hair

South Africa has cosmetic products with rooibos, including lotions, shampoos, creams, bath oils and gels. They are supposed to smooth the skin and help against sunburn and insect bites. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • E. Damiani; P. Canoli et al: Impact of Cold versus Hot Brewing on the Phenolic Profile and Antioxidant Capacity of Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) Herbal Tea. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), October 21, 2019, 8 (10), MDPI
  • Z. Pretty; S.F. Van Vuuren et al: Can rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) tea have an effect on conventional antimicrobial therapies? In: South African Journal of Botany, Issue 93, July 2014, pp. 148-156, ScienceDirect
  • J.L. Marnewick, F. Rautenbach at al .: Effects of rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) on oxidative stress and biochemical parameters in adults at risk for cardiovascular disease. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 133 (1): 46-52, January 2011, ScienceDirect
  • O. Patel; C. Muller et al .: Inhibitory Interactions of Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos) Extracts and Compounds, Aspalathin and Z-2- (β-D-Glucopyranosyloxy) -3-phenylpropenoic Acid, on Cytochrome Metabolizing Hypoglycemic and Hypolipidemic Drugs. Molecules 2016, Issue 21/11, MDPI
  • Débora Villaño, Monia Pecorar et al .: Unfermented and fermented rooibos teas (Aspalathus linearis) increase plasma total antioxidant capacity in healthy humans, in: Food Chemistry, 123/3: 679-683, December 2010, ScienceDirect
  • Christian Laue: Flavonoids in the rooibos (Aspalathus linearis). Determination, nutricinetics, changes in extraction and storage. Göttingen 2011
  • Susanne H. G. Reuther: The Rooibos Book. ABC Press, Cape Town 2004

Video: Rooibos Tea: Benefits for Health (December 2022).