Tisane: Rooibos


Sweet and mentholly but doesn’t live up to the hype.

Rooibos is a plant native to South Africa that gives a reddish broth when brewed. This gives rise to its technically incorrect English pseudonym of “red tea”. Other than being a plant (specifically a eudicot), it is of no relation to tea whatsoever (Carmellia sinensis).

Brewed, it tastes like muffled black tea with an aroma of menthol. I say ‘muffled’ because rooibos lacks the feeling of tea (茶气 in Chinese), which would have either warmed, cooled, excited or relaxed me, and invariably increased my clarity and focus. Rooibos does none of that, possibly because, unlike tea, it lacks caffeine, catechins and tannin. But the fact that rooibos shares the same woody undertones, light taste and clean mouthfeel found in many popular black teas probably makes it a hit.

Rooibos has been added to the ‘superfood’ bandwagon recently by clever lobbyists. Rumours that rooibos can cure EVERYTHING are rife on the Internet, in the Daily Mail and on supermarket labels. Personally, I think it’s just clever advertising. If only Apple advertised real books. I think ALL foods are “healthy” and could be justifiably labelled as “superfoods” if a decent advertising agency was paid handsomely enough.

I was disappointed by rooibos. I expected something magical after all that hype. Yes, rooibos makes a pleasant tisane, but so do many other herbs. It might as well have been cinnamon. 不怎么样. ★★

Readers: Have you tried Rooibos? Do you love it? Hate it? Why?

5 thoughts on “Tisane: Rooibos

    1. Me, too. I wouldn’t buy it, either. Luckily, all the tea I review I get from free samples I’ve been given 🙂

      I’ve only got four teas in my (paid) tea collection: Silver Needles, Tieguanyin, Genmaicha and Fenghuang Dancong.

      Thank you for visiting!


  1. I agree with your post. I had such high hopes for Rooibos because it smelled so great. The flavour, though, was quite lacking. I think I still have some in my kitchen cupboards since 2 years ago.


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