Tea 101
What Is African Red Tea? – Diving Deep Into This Delicious Tea

What Is African Red Tea? – Diving Deep Into This Delicious Tea

There are countless teas in the world! I am constantly learning about new teas or herbs & even learning new facts about old ones. This is what keeps the tea world so interesting. The goal of Fresh Steeps is to be a place where you can learn more about tea too!

One of those teas I have grown to love so much is the African red tea! I found this tea & absolutely loved the flavor, but did not know anything about it. As I learn more, I care to share that with you all.

Have you ever asked yourself, “What is African red tea?” or did not even know it existed & just interested in learning more? Read on to truly find out what African red tea is, the history, flavor, & more!

What Is It?!?

You are here to answer this question, so let’s get to it!

The African Red Bush

African red tea, or sometimes more commonly known as rooibos (pronounced roy-boss), is a not actually a true tea. Remember, for tea to be considered a “true tea” it must come from the Camellia sinensis plant. Rooibos in fact does not! The leaves are actually that of the Asspalathus linearis plant found in the mountainous regions of Cederberg in South Africa.

Because this red tea differs from those “traditional teas” its properties also differ. Many of the true teas like green, black, white, & oolong, have very specific steeping times & temperatures. The African red tea can be steeped in boiling water for 15 minutes or longer! This makes it a great option for those just starting their tea journey.

The African red bush (what the plant is commonly called) is a member of the legume family of plants! It flourishes in the dry mountainous region it originates from. The plant will sprout little flowers that produce beans. These beans act as the seeds & are harvested by farmers to grow more red tea!


The history of red tea is fairly young when compared to traditional teas of Camellia sinensis. Rooibos’ origins date back over 300 years ago when the Khoisan people harvested the red bush as ailments. When they would use it to heal they absolutely loved the aroma & taste!

Red Bush Being Harvested For Tea

In 1772, a European botanist named Carl Thunberg saw these people go to large feats to harvest & consume this bush. This fascinated him. After trying it & loving it, he spread its deliciousness to early Cape-Dutch settlers. This boomed because it became a cheaper alternative to the then very expensive black tea! In 1904, it spread even more when Russian immigrant Benjamin Ginsberg commercialized & marketed the tea as “mountain tea”. People loved it & it took off!

Finally in the early 2000s, the industry powdered rooibos for cooking, cosmetics, & tea-like “espresso” beverage. It is a growing beverage for its unique flavor & qualities!


The Delicious Rooibos Tea

The flavor of African red tea is unlike any that I have experienced before (I have not tried all teas though…yet)! It definitely encapsulates a much different feeling & mood than any of the traditional teas that I have had before.

First, lets start with the aroma. The smell is sweet. It can be best described as smelling a dark & rich raw honey. It is very aromatic & the smell is quite calming. When inhaled deeply, it warms the back of the head that travels down the spine. A very pleasant feeling right before taking the first sip!

Now the flavor. As mentioned, it is unique in flavor. Similar to the aroma, the initial taste is sweet honey. It is perfectly smooth with absolutely no astringency. The more the tea is drank, the more a taste of earthiness arises. There is even a very subtle flavor of a smooth coffee. This may be why it has been called a tea-like espresso?!?

Overall I love this tea on both a warm & cold day. It is perfect to drink by itself or in a blend. Other flavors that would go really well with it are honey, vanilla, chai spices, earl grey, & much more!


Are there any cool properties to African red tea? There definitely are some awesome benefits to this delicious tea!

First, this tea is caffeine-free! This allows it to be a nice alternative later in the day when you are switching off of caffeinated beverages. Rooibos also hosts a lower amount of tannins than green or black tea. Tannins can inhibit the absorption of some minerals like iron. On top of the oxalic acid content is smaller too. Oxalic acid buildup in the body can lead to kidney challenges, so if you are struggling with kidney challenges, this may be a good option!

Furthermore, rooibos contains aspalathin & quercetin, two powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants can help fight free radicals in your body & may help prevent heart disease, cancer, & other challenges. Overall it is a delicious & possibly nutritious tea!

As always, be cautious not to over consume & if you have any challenges seek a doctor’s advice before trying anything new. Ensure you know everything you can before making any changes in your diet!

The Dark Crimson Of This Red Tea

Red Tea & Me

African red tea, red bush tea, rooibos, whatever you call it, it is a delicious alternative to traditional teas! This fairly young tea is quite unique in its flavor, appearance, & aroma. It has an interesting history & pairs nicely with many herbs, teas, or flavor you may already use!

Interested in trying some for yourself? Check out these two brands that Fresh Steeps recommends! Click on each to learn more!

Buddha Teas – Rooibos Tea

Tiesta Tea – Rooibos Blends (7 different rooibos blends!!!)

Fresh Steeps is glad to have helped answer the question, “What is African red tea?” If you have any more leave a comment below!


  1. Rooibos History
  2. Red Tea Facts
  3. Redbush Tea
  4. Rooibos Benefits

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *