I'm a mom of two boys and live in Larkspur, CA, but still call South Africa my home. I grew up (literally) with Rooibos Tea: a naturally caffeine free beverage that has been used by generations of South Africans for anything from a delicious anytime drink, to a soothing beverage to calm Baby's colic, to putting in the bath for dry & flaky skin. You name it, Rooibos is the cure.
Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) appears to be matching -- and possibly besting -- the health benefits claimed for other more established teas. A favorite among South Africans for years, the beverage is said by some to have 50% more antioxidants than are found in green tea. Antioxidants are the organic substances believed to scavenge "free radicals," the toxic by-product of natural biological processes that can damage cells and lead to cancer.
It’s become such a fashionable beverage that, last summer, the New York Post ran a story about how Victoria’s Secret models were flocking to Cha Cha Matcha, a hipster spot fluent in the preparation of various matcha-based miracle potions. A search for where to get “matcha” in New York, New York on Yelp yielded some 1400 plus results. Even mass market coffee purveyors like Starbucks have made matcha their mantra, with a vast range of offerings to cash in on the craze.
African red tea, more commonly called rooibos tea, comes from the South African red bush and is naturally caffeine-free. It can be in the form of either green or red rooibos tea -- but red tea, the fermented variety, is more common. Rooibos is naturally low in calories and is naturally sweet-tasting, making it an ideal replacement for a less healthy, high-sugar drink. Rooibos also has a number of health benefits, including helping you meet your weight-loss goals.
An animal study published in 2009 in “Phytomedicine” found that green rooibos tea helped regulate glucose metabolism, preventing increases in fasting blood glucose levels during the course of the five-week study. This effect is a result of aspalathin, a compound found in green rooibos. Poor glucose tolerance and high fasting glucose levels are signs of type-2 diabetes and are common in obesity. The study suggests rooibos tea may help keep blood glucose levels in check, preventing sharp spikes and falls that can trigger symptoms of hunger and possibly leading to lower calorie consumption.
Green tea contains significant amounts of flavonoids, antioxidants that protect against heart disease by slowing the breakdown of LDL cholesterol, preventing blood clots, and improving blood vessel function. The benefits of green tea also include associations with lower cholesterol and lower rates of artery blockages. People who drink a cup or two a day have a 46 percent lower risk of developing narrowed arteries. Upping that to three cups a day lowers the risk of having a heart attack by 43 percent and of dying from a heart attack by 70 percent. It can even help prevent a second heart attack. In a study of 1,900 patients recovering from heart attacks at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, the death rate among patients who drank at least two cups of tea a day was 44 percent lower than among non-tea drinkers.
Like gyokuro, matcha is shaded before plucking. The plucked and processed leaf is called tencha. This product is then ground into a fine powder, which is matcha. Because the tea powder is very perishable, matcha is usually sold in small quantities. It is typically rather expensive. Matcha is the type of tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony. It is prepared by whisking the tea with hot water in a bowl, until the surface is frothy. If the water is too hot, the tea may become overly bitter.