Often mentioned alongside milk tart, biltong and rusks, Rooibos tea is as truly South African as it gets. Rooibos is caffeine-free, making it an anytime, anywhere type of beverage suitable for young and old. And while the soothing effects of drinking a good cup of tea with a friend have often been described as “all the therapy you need,” research has shown there are numerous physical health benefits to this delicious natural drink as well.

Rooibos is rich in protective plant compounds called polyphenols, which may help protect the body against the oxidative damage associated with diabetes. Rooibos is also a rich source of the antioxidant aspalathin, which can help to balance blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance, reports the BBC.

Drinking this tea regularly can also aid in combatting high cholesterol levels. The high flavonol content of Rooibos tea supports the cardiovascular system because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and has a positive effect on blood fats.

The Rooibos Council of South Africa lists these interesting facts about the tea:

– Unfermented (green) Rooibos has higher levels of antioxidants than traditional, fermented Rooibos.

– The antioxidants in Rooibos are potent enough to measurably elevate the antioxidant levels in the blood, thereby boosting the body’s internal defense systems against disease. The effect peaks about one hour after drinking 500 ml Rooibos tea.

– The antioxidant content of Rooibos also depends on the soil conditions of the region where the plant was grown, and on how the infusion was prepared, i.e. ratio of leaves to water, temperature of the water, extraction time, and stirring.

– No negative effects of Rooibos have ever been recorded.

– Many people report that Rooibos relieves allergies, sleep disorders, digestive problems and headaches. However, these claims are not yet supported by scientific research.

For the best-tasting cuppa, always use freshly boiled water and leave the teabag in for up to 10 minutes. Enjoy as-is, or complement with any flavour additions like sugar, milk, honey or lemon.

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