Recovering from adrenal fatigue meant going caffeine-free for 1-1/2 years. As a longtime coffee drinker with a cherished morning coffee ritual—brewing a pot of small batch-roasted espresso in my stovetop moka—this was no easy task. Just walking by a coffee bar triggered a Pavlovian response that left me craving an espresso. Tea was never my thing. I wasn’t a fan of black tea, didn’t enjoy green tea, nor did white tea hold any appeal.
Then, I discovered red tea, or, rooibos.
Admittedly, it was a bit of an acquired taste. But, now, I’m hooked.
During the dog days of summer in the country, there’s nothing I love more than sitting on our old farmhouse porch, sipping glass after glass of ice-cold rooibos tea while the sun beats down, and I dig my toes into a lush sprawl of soft grass.
Rooibos, an Afrikaans word that means “red bush”, is grown mostly in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Rooibos isn’t technically a “tea” (maybe that’s why I like it!). Made from the stems and leaves of the plant Aspalathus linearis—not Camellia plants that produce traditional black and green teas— this popular South African tisane is naturally caffeine-free.
One of the benefits of drinking rooibos is that it is loaded with antioxidants.
It contains two uncommon antioxidants: nothofagin, shown to protect against cancer, heart disease, and stroke; and aspalthin, a flavonoid that helps maintain normal blood sugar levels. Aspalathus linearis (rooibos) is purported to help reduce stress-related symptoms linked to metabolic diseases. In a study conducted to see if rooibos could help prevent stress-related conditions, like high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistant type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, researchers found that both nothofagin and aspalthin in rooibos significantly reduced the precursors to aldosterone and cortisol (stress hormones), thereby helping reduce stress.
Another bonus: drinking rooibos, an antioxidant-rich whole food, can help our body naturally increase its own production of antioxidant enzymes within cells that can be up to one million times more effective in fighting free radicals. In other words, “making” your own antioxidants (internally) may be much safer and more effective than “taking” (externally) high doses of single-nutrient (synthetic) antioxidant supplements (like vitamin E or vitamin C) that can potentially accelerate the aging process and increase cancer risk—rather than have a protective effect. Click on my article, The Downside of Antioxidants, which explains the downside of taking synthetic, single-nutrient antioxidant supplements.
Other animal studies have linked rooibos with health benefits that include:
♦ Preventing DNA damage
♦ Reducing oxidative stress
♦ Preventing inflammation
♦ Reducing episodes of herpes simplex (less stress = less cold sores!)
♦ Having a protective effect on the liver
♦ Providing relief from diarrhea
♦ Having anti-cancer effects
Rooibos is also a good source of minerals, including fluoride, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, sodium and zinc.
I prefer to buy organic rooibos as a loose tea—not in tea bags—although you can certainly start with rooibos tea bags to get a sense of its taste. Tea bags, however, can be a potential source of toxins because they are typically treated with epichlorohydrin, which converts to a carcinogen (3-MCPD) once the tea bag comes in contact with water.
If you’re ready to relax—and ramp up your antioxidant levels—make rooibos your go-to tea.
Iced Mint Rooibos
4 teaspoons organic rooibos (loose tea)
4 cups water, boiled
3-4 cups filtered water
4 springs of fresh mint (optional)
Pour 4 cups of boiling water over 4 teaspoons of loose tea; cover and let steep for 5-7 minutes.
Strain brewed tea into a large glass pitcher, and add 3-4 cups of filtered water (depending on taste).
Add mint sprigs—or other desired herb—and steep.
Refrigerate until cold.
Pour over ice in a tall glass. Enjoy!