Rooibos – What is it?

by Elena Popec 17. August 2012 12:05

The local people of the Western Cape region of South Africa have recognized and enjoyed the benefits of the rooibos tea bush for centuries.  In the last few decades, awareness of this plant and its amazing potential has spread throughout Europe and the Americas.  In the mid-1700s, a Swedish botanist observed that the leaves of this bush could be harvested, processed, and steeped into a hot beverage similar to black tea.  Locals would pick the leaves from the bush, which grows exclusively in the mountainous terrain of this small area in South Africa, and then bring them back to level ground for a primitive curing process.  The leaves were chopped and bruised, and then left out in the sun to dry.  Once fully dried, the leaves could be steeped and served in place of black tea, which was in limited supply and very expensive.

While rooibos infusions remained a very popular drink in South Africa, it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that advancements in cultivation of the rooibos bush made increased production and distribution a possibility.  A special sifting process was developed to isolate the rooibos seed, and thus the bush could be planted and raised under the watchful eye of local farmers.  Further developments in the curing process enhanced the flavor and appearance of the final product, making it even more popular in South Africa and the rest of the world.

When steeped into a tea-like infusion, rooibos has a pleasing, naturally sweet and slightly nutty flavor.  Dried rooibos is graded for quality, with higher grades containing a larger proportion of leaves to stem pieces.  The highest grades of dried rooibos have the darkest, richest, and boldest flavor.  A rooibos infusion tastes great on its own, and also mixes very well with a variety of other herbal infusions and true teas to create a countless array of blends and flavors.  Many people enjoy the taste of rooibos; is it rich and complex like a black true tea, but lower tannin levels leave rooibos without the slight bitterness that many black teas have.

Beyond its pleasant flavor, rooibos contains a number of compounds that make it a healthful drink; its growing popularity is largely due to its health potential.  Rooibos is packed full of powerful antioxidants, which help to neutralize and destroy harmful free radicals in the body.  It also boasts a wealth of phenolic compounds and is completely caffeine-free.  It has long been used to ease tension, relieve the symptoms of allergies, and to combat digestive issues.  Although there is no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of rooibos in these medicinal applications, it is a relative newcomer to the Western world; research is ongoing.  Even if further study proves that rooibos is ineffective in treating anxiety or digestive problems, the antioxidant properties alone make rooibos a valuable addition to a healthful life.  With its health benefits, delicious flavor, and numerous blending possibilities, rooibos is sure to continue to rise in popularity and consumption in the U.S.

Herbal Tea Blends - The different choices

by Elena Popec 27. July 2012 15:39

Although it is most commonly referred to by the moniker “herbal tea blends”, the vast varieties of steeped herbal beverages that are enjoyed all over the world are not really teas at all.  In fact, tisanes (the more accurate term for herbal teas) don’t even come from the same plant as true teas.  Black, white, green, and oolong tea have the same source:  the camellia sinensis plant.  The distinctive appearance and taste of any type of true tea comes from how the leaves are prepared once they are harvested.  Altering the amount of time camellia sinensis leaves are given to dry and oxidize determines the style of tea that will result; the more time tea leaves spend in the curing process, the stronger and bolder they will be. 

While tisanes packaged, sold, and prepared in the same way as true teas, their origins could not be more different.  True teas are made exclusively from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant.  Tisanes can have a variety of sources; the most common sources are the South American yerba mate plant, the South African rooibos bush, and any number of herb plants native to all parts of the world.  They can be made by drying different parts of the plants from which they come.  Tisanes are typically categorized by the part of the plant that is used to make them.  Many tea drinkers would be surprised to learn that a large number of the most common “teas” on the market today are actually tisanes:  mint and lemongrass (leaf tisanes), chamomile and lavender (flower tisanes), peach, raspberry and apple (fruit tisanes), ginger and Echinacea (root tisanes), cinnamon and black cherry (bark tisanes), and fennel and cardamom (seed or spice tisanes).  Unlike camellia sinensis, the plant sources of tisanes are used for much more than their leaves.  Because they come from such a wide range of plants and plant parts, tisanes offer many more options in flavor than true teas.  The wide variety of tisane flavors is often used to create flavored tea blends; true teas are mixed with tisanes to create varieties such as Chai.

Tisanes of all kinds have been steeped for centuries.  The ancient civilizations in Egypt and China left behind documented uses of tisanes for medicinal purposes as well as their general consumption for enjoyment.  Either in pure form or blended from various plant sources, tisanes were thought to have had a wealth of healthy properties that could ease anxiety and help to restore health.  Tisanes continue to be popular for both their delicious flavors and health benefits today.  They are naturally caffeine free (even decaffeinated true teas still contain trace amounts of caffeine), rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and are available in a broad array of flavors and blends.  No matter what your taste preferences are, you’re sure to find at least a few tisanes that satisfy your palate.  Tisane varieties are just as readily available, easy to prepare, and maybe for some even more tasty than true teas.

South African Vending Machine Gives Away Roobios Tea For Tweets

by Steven Popec 2. July 2012 08:27

In one of the stranger news stories of the week, a unique vending machine has been installed in the South African city of Cape Town. While traditional vending machines exchange money for goods, this vending machine is different.

Named ‘Bev’, the tea vending machine gives away free samples of Roobios tea in exchange for a tweet. Specifically, people who use a certain hash tag on Twitter are rewarded with a small cup of tea.

After grabbing a cup of tea from ‘Bev’, fans can follow the vending machine on Twitter or like her fanpage on Facebook. 

While Twitter has been used in a number of unique and interesting ways, this is the first time the popular social network has been used to giveaway free tea samples via a vending machine.

Why is Rooibos tea so popular in South Africa?

There’s a reason that Bev hands out cups of Rooibos tea for free in Cape Town. Rooibos is native to the Western Cape province of South Africa. In fact, that is the only region of the world where Rooibos is grown.

Rooibos tea features a distinctive reddish-brown color. In Afrikaans, Rooibos means ‘redbush’, although the tea is not actually made from the redbush plant.

While rooibos tea is popular in South Africa, more and more people all over the world are starting to appreciate its health benefits. Rooibos tea contains powerful antioxidant properties with no adverse side effects, making it ideal for the treatment of allergies, digestive problems, and nervous tension. 

Do you use Twitter? Save money on your next tea order from ESP Emporium!

The company that made Bev isn’t the only tea company that wants to reward Twitter users. ESP Emporium currently has a promotion underway that gives a $5 rebate to anybody who follows us on Twitter. To enter this promotion, simply head to ESP Emporium's front page and click on the “Tea if for Twitter” link in the bottom footer.

A dialogue box will pop-up prompting you to follow us on Twitter. Then, enter your name in the text box underneath and we’ll send you a direct message with your coupon code. It’s that easy!

On Twitter, we keep you posted on the latest news going on in the world of tea. We also have special promotions that help you save money on our selection of loose leaf tea.

The bottom line

Whether you want a free cup of Rooibos tea from a vending machine or a full order of our   Organic Mango/Strawberry Rooibos Tea Blend, we can all agree that getting good deals on tea is a good thing.

To discover more about our selection of Rooibos tea, click here.

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African Rooibos Tea Facts and Notes

by ESP Tea Lover 7. June 2012 18:21

Rooibos tea (pronounced “roy-boss"), also called red tea for its color is a tea that is sought after by many people, but also something that some tea drinkers do not except. If you are unsure whether this type of loose leaf tea is for you or not the best thing for you to do is give it a try. The fact of the matter is that you will never know whether you like it or not if you do not give it a trial run. The end result could be that you really like the taste and aroma. Many people drink red teas for the first time and quickly become hooked. All in all, red tea is something that you need to know a little bit about, as well as try, before you make a final judgment.


Rooibos Origins

In short, red tea comes from the African Red Bush. It was originally consumed by the people of South Africa but soon made its way to every other continent in the world. Once red tea was introduced to other places in the world it became a major source of income for the towns in South Africa that produced the tea. Since there was no alternative out there the people that wanted red tea had to get it from this area in Africa.

Rooibos Tea Flavor

Rooibos tea has a desirable sweet flavor. Since rooibos is free of caffeine and tannic acid, the preparation is very easy. Larger amount of tea or longer brewing do not have such big effects and the infusion remains perfectly enjoyable. It should be noted that the flavor of red tea is something that is highly regarded by tea connoisseurs. This means that for the most part, people who have dedicated a lot of time to tea and tea drinking find the flavor to be perfect. Rooibos copper-brown needle-like leaf is a great base for creating excellent tea blends using flower blossoms, petals, spices, coffee beans, caramel, chocolate chips and other decorations.


Are There Health Benefits?

The answer to this question is yes, there are numerous health benefits to drinking red tea. In fact, red tea is one of the healthiest beverages that you can consume. Not only is it completely free of caffeine but it also has many antioxidants. These antioxidants are responsible for promoting good health as well as ridding your body of any toxins that may be present. These antioxidants are responsible for helping you to look younger. If you want to make sure that your skin is healthy and you have a young appearance then you should drink red tea!
In addition, this tea is thought to have a very soothing effect. It will help to fight off allergies or even a headache. Your immune system will be boosted which means that you will feel better in general. These health benefits of rooibos tea make it very popular amongst people that take their physical and mental health seriously. Not only do you get the health benefits, but you also get the great taste!

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