What is Red Bush Tea?

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  • Written By: Mandi Rogier
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 23 January 2020
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Red bush tea, also known as rooibos tea, bush tea, bushman tea and red tea, is a beverage made by steeping the leaves of the rooibos plant in hot water. The rooibos plant, or red bush, is a shrub with small, needle-shaped leaves and delicate yellow flowers. It is native to South Africa, where this drink originated.

When the leaves of the rooibos plant are harvested for tea, they are bruised, dried, and fermented. This process causes them to turn from their original lush green to a reddish brown hue. This pigment has given the plant and subsequent tea their names.

The herbal tea made from rooibos has a distinct reddish orange color. The flavor is mild and slightly sweet. Unlike many other teas, red bush tea does not contain caffeine. The beverage has a long history as a popular drink in South Africa, and can now be found in other areas including Europe, Asia, and the United States. Red bush tea can be drunk plain, with milk, or with honey and lemon.

Red bush tea is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and has many purported health benefits. An article published in 2006 by Diane L. McKay of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University concluded that studies performed on animals have revealed that this tea may boost the immune system and help prevent cancer. Similar studies on humans are scarce, but these results are promising.


In South Africa, the tea was commonly used to treat stomach ailments including cramps, diarrhea, and colic. The antioxidant properties of the plant can help relieve discomfort from allergies, eczema, and rashes. This drink has been given the nickname, “Long Life Tea” in Asia for these numerous health benefits.

Red bush tea has no known side effects. In addition to being consumed for its health benefits, this beverage is also used by some as an everyday drink. The lack of caffeine in the plant has made it the preferred choice for individuals who are looking for a non-stimulating beverage.

To prepare the tea, one should steep anywhere from one to four teaspoons of dried, prepared rooibos in one cup of water. The more rooibos used, the stronger the resulting tea will be. Red bush tea can also be purchased from commercial tea companies. Some variations include chai, lemon, cranberry, orange, and other added flavorings.


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Post 3

@anon84759-- I'm not sure if there are any official studies done on the effects of drinking red bush tea during pregnancy. But there appears to be a general consensus among pregnant women that it is a safe drink.

We know that red bush tea doesn't have caffeine and stimulants. It has a small amount of tannin. Tannin is a substance found in teas that can limit absorption of vitamins, iron and protein. Red bush tea is said to have less than half the amount of tannin in regular black tea.

My mother did not have any tea or coffee during her two pregnancies at all. She said that she didn't crave any and only had water and milk

during the nine months. A friend of mine had half a cup of tea (with milk) once a week. Neither had any problems during pregnancy.

I think its always best to check with the doctor though. Has anyone had experiences with red bush tea during pregnancy?

Post 2

My grandmother used to make this tea for me when I caught a cold or couldn't sleep. I had no idea how it helped back then, but now I now its because of its sedative effect and vitamin C. Red bush tea has many health benefits because it is nontoxic unlike many other herbal teas that have some toxicity or stimulating effects. They recommend it for patients with high blood pressure, along with teas like chamomile and mint because it is caffeine free and won't affect their blood pressure. I also read that there are studies being done to determine if red bush could be used in anti-cancer treatment.

Post 1

Can you drink bush tea when you are pregnant?

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