Rooibos Q&A

What is in a typical cup of Rooibos?
Several scientists are still working to unravel the complex mix of compounds in Rooibos. This is what we know so far:

  • An extract of Rooibos contains a complex mix of flavonoid antioxidants, including aspalathin – to date isolated from Aspalathus linearis (the botanical name for Rooibos). Aspalathin is the major flavonoid of unfermented Rooibos. It decreases during fermentation, but is still a major flavonoid constituent of fermented Rooibos (the tea with the characteristic red-brown colour and flavour). Aspalathin is important, not only because it is a novel compound, but also because it is often the most active antioxidant in Rooibos. Rooibos also contains the rare flavonoid glucoside nothofagin. Other major phenolic compounds are orientin and iso-orientin, with smaller compounds of vitexin and isovitexin and many more compounds.
  • Rooibos extract contains trace amounts of minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc. It does not contain measurable levels of Vitamin C or Vitamin E.
  • Rooibos does not contain any caffeine. The Rooibos extract also does not contain any fat or proteins, and therefore also no kilojoules. It is considered a low-tannin beverage, especially when compared to Camellia sinensis (black tea).
  • Rooibos is very low in sodium.

Rooibos is naturally caffeine free. What does that mean and why is that good?
It means that there is no caffeine in Rooibos and it is therefore not necessary to decaffeinate it to get rid of caffeine. Caffeine containing drinks can be decaffeinated, but, depending on the specific decaffeination process used, the end-product may contain potentially harmful traces of solvent residues. That is why many people prefer not to drink beverages that have been chemically decaffeinated.

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.