At the end of last week we were talking about taking baby steps toward achieving positive change and good health, and one of the suggestions we made involved having a cup of rooibos tea every now and then, perhaps instead of a more calorie-laden or caffeine charged beverage.
Rooibos tea- the word rooibos means “red bush” in Afrikaans.-comes from the harvested and dried leaves of the herb Aspalathus linearis that grows in the mountain area of the Western Cape of South Africa. Eighteenth century Dutch settlers noted that tea from this bush was made by the local peoples, and it quickly caught their fancy as an inexpensive local alternative to the imported teas they otherwise had to rely on. Once the leaves are harvested and dried, they are oxidized (fermented), which deepens the distinctive red colour and enhances the sweet, mellow flavour.
It may be this distinctive colour and delicious flavour that we relish the most about rooibos, and the fact that it is caffeine free makes it a great choice for those who eschew caffeine later in the day, but there are other wonderful attributes that this little brew possesses as well. For generations people have used this infusion to sooth a variety of complaints including headaches and stomach aches, notably colic in infants, asthma, insomnia and hypertension, and it is often prescribed as an aid in combatting allergies such as eczema, hay-fever and allergy-related bronchitis.
Rooibos contains a high number of polyphenols, antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory and antiviral characteristics that boost the immune system, and the nutrients quercetin and bioflavonoids that assist in blood circulation. Further, it contains high levels of iron, also vital in the transport of oxygen in the blood, potassium, calcium, magnesium and fluoride, so it is good for bones and teeth, and is also a natural source of zinc and alpha-hydroxy acids that are known to be very good for one’s skin: alpha-hydroxy acid is used in cosmetics and chemical peels to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and revitalize the skin.
Give it a chance during this month when everyone is trying to make healthier choices.