ROOIBOS Q&A

What effect does Rooibos have on teeth, especially in children?
The 2009 Rooibos analysis showed that the fluoride levels in Rooibos are too low to make any claims regarding dental health.

What's the right terminology of brewing vs. steeping; pasteurisation vs. sterilisation?
Brewing tea would most likely refer to the process of making tea with loose tea leaves and then allowing it to boil gently over a period of time. Steeping refers to infusing tea bags in water that has just boiled. Rooibos tea is pasteurised, mostly by using steam (not sterilised). A sterile product is sealed and has no remaining microbiological activity.

What is the link between Rooibos' tannins and iron absorption? What effect does Rooibos have on iron absorption and how does it compare with the impact on other teas?
The 2009 analysis done on a wide range of Rooibos samples showed very low iron content in Rooibos. Compared to black tea, Rooibos is also considered a low-tannin beverage. Although the flavonoids in Rooibos will bind with iron, this will not take place to the same extent as in the case of black tea. A South African study dating back to 1979 reported that Rooibos has no effect on iron, while black tea significantly reduced iron uptake. A more recent study done in 2005 among school children showed no adverse effects of Rooibos or black tea on the iron status of school children. People who suffer from iron deficiency can enjoy Rooibos, but it would probably be wise not to take tea with meals.

What can we promote as the safe number of cups of Rooibos per day and how do we substantiate it? Have any toxicity / toxicology tests been done?
People have been drinking Rooibos for centuries, and it is generally considered a safe and beneficial beverage. A 2007/2008 clinical trial conducted by Dr Jeanine Marnewick at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology showed that there were no negative side-effects in people drinking six cups of Rooibos per day as part of a healthy lifestyle and specifically to reduce the risk of heart disease. The six cups of Rooibos should be spaced throughout the day to deliver optimum health benefits.

Does Rooibos contain alpha hydroxy acid that promotes healthy skin and/or treatment of skin problems?
Alpha hydroxy acid is a phenolic acid that is not present in Rooibos, at least not in sufficient quantities to be detected by HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) analysis, and therefore the levels (if present) would be too low to have an effect.