Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rooibos tea

Hilary and I started drinking Rooibos tea several years ago.  We enjoy a version that is flavoured with vanilla almost every night before bed.  Within 20 minutes of finishing a hot cup, I can barely keep my eyes open.  It's the best sleep aide I've ever tried.  Even our son Liam will often ask for a cup of "sleepy" tea at night.  Since a good night's sleep is so important to health and fitness, I ensure that I enjoy a nice hot cup every night to help send me off to dreamland.

Rooibos tea originates from South Africa.  It's naturally sweet and contains no caffeine.  It's also been found to have many health benefits ranging from:

  • calming stomach cramps, even colicky babies
  • alleviating allergy symptoms
  • preventing the development of fatty liver disease
  • potential in treating diabetes
  • and even preventing cancer
What is the best way to prepare a cup Rooibos tea?
To make a really good cup of rooibos, use freshly boiled water. This ensures you get the best infusion or extraction from the dried leaves. You need to allow time for the leaves to infuse and open, releasing their fragrance and flavour. If using loose-leaf tea, the rule of thumb is one to two teaspoons per cup for two to four minutes, depending on the strength you like. If you prefer tea bags, work on one per cup. A longer extraction time will result in stronger tea. Once it is poured, enjoy immediately.

The South African Rooibos Council suggests that you drink upwards of 6 cups of Rooibos tea a day to get the maximum health benefits. Since we mainly use it as a sleep aid, I was skeptical about drinking it throughout the day.  I didn't need to be falling asleep at my desk every tea time!  However, while the tea's calming effect can be felt no matter what time you drink it, it does not cause drowsiness during the day.  There is currently no research to explain why this is so, and the sleep aid nature of Rooibos is mostly anecdotal.  But as someone who drinks it every day, I truly believe in it's seemingly magical abilities.

All photos and facts courtesy of The South African Rooibos Council

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