Globally, the demand for healthy drinks and supplements has steadily increased, with more and more individuals switching over to healthier food options. Green tea and black tea continue to be favorites among a sizeable section of tea drinkers globally. New caffeine free options include Rooibos, an herbal tea sourced from South Africa. The tea is also available as unfermented green tea, and comes with many claims of benefits, including many that are yet to be fully proven or substantiated by documented studies. The following sub-sections highlight the main benefits, and list out reported and possible rooibos tea side effects.

Overview of the caffeine-free tea

The red herbal tea is sourced from the leaves of a shrub native to South Africa, the Aspalathus linearis. The flavor is sweet, with an earthy tinge, offering a refreshing and rejuvenating experience from the delicate, soothing flavor. Many of the benefits of the tea are attributed to the antioxidants in the leaves. The tea is available both in fermented and unfermented form. The mechanism of action of the tea is attributed to many properties of ingredients including the phenolic compounds. These compounds are known to have a protective effect on tissues, which explains some of the benefits explained later. The tea is also rich in Aspathalin, polyphenols and the antioxidative properties are due to the ability to quench radicals.

The ability to inhibit radical propagation, the presence of Vitamins makes the tea effective; delivering benefits that continue to be the subject of studies. The properties and effects of the tea has been studied in male wistar rats, and this is the basis for many claims about the tea. Here is a look at some of the benefits of the tea.

Method of preparation of Rooibos tea

The tea can be consumed hot or cold, like black tea. The tea can also be mixed with milk, and sweetened with honey or sugar. Ideal preparation includes boiling of the leaves in the right proportion, and allowing extracting the flavor and properties of the tea by steeping it for five minutes.

Standout health benefits of Rooibos tea

#1 Caffeine – The tea is known to be free from caffeine and the lower levels of tannins make it a good choice for certain users. For instance, pregnant women and individuals who do not prefer caffeine for various reasons can safely opt for Rooibos as a beverage. Caffeine is known to have multiple health benefits; however, many users end up with undesirable effects of caffeine. This includes sleep disturbances, anxiety related issues, and change in heart beat rate. Caffeine is also known to cause jittery feelings among certain individuals, and cause physical effects such as jitteriness and heart palpitations.

One of the reasons for the standout benefits of the tea, is the lower level of tannins. These compounds are responsible for the negative action; for instance, it negatively impacts the ability of the body to absorb iron. Present in many food products that are plant based, this is one of the reasons for negative impact on health from tannins. Products such as black tea, green tea and red wine are known to be rich in tannins and by virtue of lower levels of tannins, Rooibos tea does not have any negative impact on the iron intake or levels in the body.

#2 Antioxidants – As an abundant source of antioxidants, Rooibos tea helps fight free radicals and delivers preventive and protective effects. Attributed to the quercetin and aspalathin in the leaves, the green variety of the tea is known to contain higher levels when compared with the red variety of the tea. By preventing damage to the cells in the body from free radicals, the tea is known to be effective in improving liver health. The effects are still a subject of studies and more detailed information will be available on conclusion of the studies.

Antioxidants are known to have a positive impact on cardiovascular health, and Rooibos tea offers the added advantage of helping fight cholesterol. Studies conducted on groups of volunteers reveal that one group of volunteers on Rooibos tea had lower LDL levels and higher HDL levels, when compared with a control group on a placebo. The lowering of bad cholesterol and increase in good cholesterol levels makes Rooibos tea a good choice. Other beneficial properties include the inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme that is known to cause an increase in blood pressure levels.

#3 Blood sugar – The antioxidants in the tea are known to help individuals with high blood sugar levels.  By bringing down blood sugar, the tea helps prevent or mitigate long term complications linked to high levels of blood sugar. The actual mechanism of action is attributed to aspalathin, that is known to have an impact on blood sugar levels. Certain conditions or complications are attributed to diabetes, such as vascular inflammation, apart from atherosclerosis. The antioxidant is known to help in managing these conditions that are in turn responsible for heart health. It is necessary to remember that unfermented green rooibos tea has more aspalathin when compared with red rooibos tea.

#4 Weight control – By virtue of being low on calories, Rooibos tea is a good choice for individuals trying to control weight gain. This is attributed to the presence of Leptin, a hormone that is responsible for regulating intake of food in the body. By transmitting signals that food intake is not necessary, the hormone prevents binge eating or excessive dietary intake, that is responsible for weight gain. In addition to this, the tea also prevents fat cells from forming, and this stops fat accumulation. Additionally, the tea is also known to facilitate fat metabolism and this helps in maintaining weight and body mass index.

#5 Skin – The effect of the tea on wrinkles and skin is probably one of the stronger reasons for encouraging consumption among a large number of users. Studies have documented reduction in wrinkles among users who consumed the tea, as a part of studies of various ingredients known to have positive impact on skin. The findings of the study revealed that Rooibos tea had better result among other ingredients in reduction of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin. This makes it a good choice for individuals looking for a natural dietary product to reduce the formation of wrinkles.

#6 Claims of benefits – There are other claims of benefits, many of which are yet to be fully substantiated through documented studies. Many claims are on the basis of the mechanism of action, and the perceived outcomes from the properties of ingredients in the tea. However, confirmation is possible only when adequate studies have been carried out to determine and verify the effects. This includes positive impact on allergies, digestive complications and mental health conditions. Infants are known to have predictable periods of crying or fussing known as Colic; Rooibos tea is known to have a positive impact on the condition. The tea is also claimed to help individuals cope with sleeping disorders including insomnia, apart from poor appetite.

Possible rooibos tea side effects

With all the information about benefits and preparation methods outlined in detail, it is time to look at the possible undesirable effects of the tea. While it is considered as safe, with no known cases of adverse or serious effects, there are certain mild effects and interactions that needs to be remembered. For instance, when the tea is consumed in excessive quantities, there is every possibility of it causing undesirable effects. The possibility of damage to liver in some form, if consumed in excessive quantities cannot be entirely ruled out. In the absence of documented studies about the effects or long-term effects of the tea on pregnant women or nursing mothers, it is advised that pregnant and lactating women avoid the tea.

In addition to the above, there is the possibility of the tea interacting with other substances or drugs. This also includes the mechanism of action of the tea that results in benefits. A simple example is the ability of the tea to reduce bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels. Individuals on medications for the same conditions are advised to avoid the tea when on the medication. The combined action of the tea and medication may result in more than desired outcomes. The same applies to medications that have desired outcomes similar to the benefits of the medication.

For instance, rooibos tea is known to have an effect on blood sugar levels, and this may result in an interaction if the individual is on medications to lower blood sugar. The combined effect of the medication and the tea may cause hypoglycemia in certain instances. Another possible interaction is with medications prescribed for inhibiting ACE enzymes. As the tea offers a similar benefit, there is a possibility of the tea and the medication bringing about an amplified effect that may not be health.  Individuals on medications that are classified as ACE inhibitors are advised to avoid the tea and seek medical recommendations before taking the same.

Tips and summary

Depending on the desired outcome of the herbal tea, it is best to choose a suitable variety. As mentioned earlier, the unfermented green tea possesses certain properties, while the red tea possesses a different set of properties. Users are advised to choose the appropriate tea as per actual requirement. Extract of the leaves are also available in different forms, but it is advisable to seek advice before use. For instance, it is available in powder form, as capsules, and as tinctures. Excessive intake of extract in concentrated form may damage the liver and it is therefore necessary to stick to a recommended dosage as per advice.

While there are relatively lesser-known rooibos tea side effects it is advisable to take suitable precautions to avoid undesirable effects. One of the probable causes for undesirable effects is excessive intake in an effort to get faster results or better results. There is absolutely no way by which the benefits can be sped up through increased intake or by increasing the frequency of intake. It is necessary to consume the tea or extract in moderation for the benefits, and avoid needless complications.


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