Rooibos: A Caffeine-Free Herbal Tisane

Rooibos has been touted as the "miracle tea," and regardless of whether you believe such claims, it's worth getting to know this South African herb. In addition to its use as a fruity, red tisane, rooibos can even be incorporated into sweet and savory dishes.

Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) is a shrubby plant that grows exclusively in southwestern South Africa. The dried leaves are traditionally used to make tisanes that have no caffeine and fewer tannins than black tea. Although there is a non-oxidized version of rooibos (akin to green tea), the most common oxidized variety is mahogany in color with a naturally sweet, woody, tobacco-y flavor. As for the health benefits, rooibos is high in antioxidants and purported uses include acne, aging, asthma, cancer, and insomnia.

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Besides using plain rooibos, or one of the many flavored varieties on the market, as a hot or cold tea, it also makes a pretty and flavorful base for smoothies and popsicles. It can even be used in cooking. Here are a few recipes to try:

Iced Ginger Chai from Elana's Pantry
Apricot Rooibos Flurry from Return To The Garden
Tea Cookies with Rooibos Sugar from Tasting Table
Rooibos Butternut "Pizzettas" from Sunset
Beef Braised in Rooibos Tea from Manu's Menu

Buy it: Organic Fair Trade Rooibos at Arbor Teas

Do you drink rooibos? What's your favorite kind?

Related: Good Question: How Can I Find Good Decaffeinated Tea?

(Images: Flickr member Lyle Nel licensed under Creative Commons; Arbor Teas)

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Main, Drinks, African, Tea

Emily Ho is a Los Angeles-based writer, recipe developer, and educator on topics such as food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. She is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and Food Swap Network. Learn more at Roots & Marvel

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