Not proud to admit it, but I’ve been scared of rooibos. First of all, is it “ROY-bose” or “ROY-bus”? “RUE-ee-bose” or “RUE-ee-bus”? Reading that’s it’s also called “red bush tea” and that it comes from South Africa, while interesting, doesn’t help. I’ve had it (and made it) in blends of herbal tea, but as it was always mixed in with other tastes, I never knew exactly what it contributed aside from its lack of caffeine. Even the old Tazo African Red Bush teabags (which, alas, they no longer make or sell) combined hibiscus, lemon verbena, orange peel, rosemary, lemon balm, citric acid and natural flavors. I used to like those teabags. I’m sorry they’re no longer available.
But rooibos by itself I had never had. So I bought this small 4 oz tin (with a nice see-through hinged lid) in order to really try it. Aside from throwing in a spoonful when blending myself a pot of something without caffeine at night, I’d never used it. So here goes.
First of all, be prepared to use some kind of filter paper, otherwise the tiny little seedlike bits can escape even tiny-meshed tea strainers. No, I didn’t do research to find out what part of the red bush this tea comes from. Doesn’t look like leaves, maybe it’s seeds—it’s certainly tiny enough to be little seeds. Yeah, the bulk of them will be caught by the mesh—but there’s enough residue of dozens of tiny specks, you’ll want to use a coffee filter over a mesh if you want to keep them ALL out of your tea.
The tea has a pleasant-enough flavor. It’s not bitter, kind of nutty, kind of raisin-y tasting. I feel like I should be eating a slice of nut bread or raisin toast while drinking this, as it would certainly go well. Don’t know what the health benefits of rooibos are supposed to be (yes, I’ll be looking that up, too), but while not the usual tea flavor of camellia sinensis, it’s a cozy-tasting hot beverage. I’m having this unsweetened, so to taste it by itself. It tastes “healthy”—like it should go along with organic toast or oatmeal, or other good-for-you foodstuffs. Unless you’ve grown up with it, it is not the usual breakfast beverage. This will be a plus for some people, a minus for others who’d rather have regular tea or coffee.
The upshot? It’s not bad. I will have to give it a number of more tries for my tastebuds to get over the “different” factor. But I think it could be just the thing for a cool fall morning, especially with some nice baked goods.
Flavors: Bread, Brown Toast, Grain, Nutty, Oats, Raisins