Rooibos (a Dutch word that means “red bush”) is an herb from South Africa’s Western Cape region. When made into tea, Rooibos is non-caffeinated and has a rich, almost sweet flavor.
The name “Rooibos” comes from the reddish-brown color that the leaves take on when they are oxidized with heat. However, there is also a green Rooibos that is made when the leaves are lightly steamed but do not undergo a full process of oxidization. Green Rooibos tea is more difficult to produce than regular Rooibos, and has a milder flavor.
Rooibos tea is made from the needle-like leaves of the Aspalathus Linearis plant, which grows in a mountainous region near the South African Atlantic coast. Owing to the unique climate and soil conditions of the region, the Aspalathus Linearis is extremely difficult to grow in other places. Rooibos has been enjoyed for many generations in South Africa, which continues to be its premier exporter around the world.
While steeping some teas too long can produce a flavor that’s overly strong or bitter, as an herbal tea Rooibos is easy to prepare and won’t become bitter with longer brewing. Using water that’s brought to a full boil, steep a teaspoon of Rooibos for every 6 to 8 ounces of water for at least five minutes to maximize its aromatic flavor.