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Rooibos Tea-Unique and Versatile South African Cooking Ingredient

Updated on July 16, 2011

The wonderful flavor and startling versatility make Rooibos worth the praise it has received, a mainstay for the converted and a must-try for the not-yet enlightened.”Chris Cason, Tea Muse , May 2004

Rooibos Teabags & Leaves
Rooibos Teabags & Leaves

What Makes Rooibos Tea so Unique?

One of the few cooking ingredients that are indigenous to the Western Cape, South Africa is Rooibos tea. Yes, Rooibos tea is not just a tea but is a versatile cooking ingredient that’s uses go far beyond any other tea.

  • Introducing Rooibos tea to any dish will not only enhance the flavour and appearance of the food but at the same time it will increase its nutritional value.
  • Rooibos Tea is a natural tenderiser and is ideal for marinades or for bases when making stews and casseroles.
  • To add color and flavour to your favourite baking recipe replace the milk or water with Rooibos Tea. Cakes baked with Rooibos tea are moister and keep fresh longer.
  • If Rooibos tea is stored in an airtight container it will keep both its taste and color for long periods of time.
  • It can be served either as a hot beverage or chilled as iced tea.

Rooibos as a Herb

What makes Rooibos So Healthy?

  • Firstly Rooibos tea has no additives, preservatives or colorants and is caffeine free. This means that it is both pure and natural.
  • It is low in tannin so it does not interfere with the body’s absorption of iron and protein and can be safely consumed in unlimited quantities.
  • Rooibos tea is recommended for people following a calorie restricted diet as it contains natural calorie free sweeteners.
  • The strong antioxidants present in Rooibos tea fight the free radicals which are known to cause ageing and the breaking down of the immunity system.
  • The soothing effect of Rooibos tea makes it ideal for people suffering from irritability, insomnia and mild hypertension or depression.
  • Rooibos tea has natural anti-spasmodic properties making it a healthy and natural way to help ease colic and stomach cramps in babies.
  • It is an ideal substitute for milk if baby is lactose intolerant. Its uses are not confined to baby’s diet as it is ideal for relieving skin irritations and nappy rash when applied to the affected area.

  • Rooibos tea is an excellent source of manganese, fluoride and calcium which are essential for strong bones and teeth in growing children.
  • It also contains the minerals potassium, copper and iron which are vital for various metabolic functions. Rooibos also promotes a healthy nervous system as it contains magnesium and at the same time the zinc and alpha hydroxy acid found in Rooibos promotes healthy skin

Cooking with Tea

Rooibos Ice Cream


1 Litre Milk

10 Egg Yolks

250g Castor Sugar

400ml Softly Whipped Cream

3 Rooibos Teabags

  • Mix the milk, egg yolks and castor sugar in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. 
  • When the mixture has thickened to the consistency of thick pouring cream remove from heat.
  • Add the rooibos tea bags to the mixture and allow to cool.
  • Once the mixture has cooled down remove the rooibos tea bags and add the softly whipped cream.
  • Refrigerate overnight.
  • Once thoroughly chilled beat the mixture for two minutes and freeze.

For a smoother ice-cream repeat the beating process at half hour intervals twice before leaving the ice cream to settle.

Serve chilled  - delicious on its own – or add fruit of choice for garnish

Rooibos - Not Just For South Africans

Rooibos as a Herbal Tea

Rooibos Tea Cupcakes


400g Cake flour

300g Castor sugar

250g Butter, Room Temperature

250ml Strong Rooibos Tea

2tbsn Honey( mixed into Rooibos Tea)

4 Large eggs

5ml Salt

4 teaspoons Baking Powder

24 Paper Muffin Cups


  • Preheat the oven to 180°.
  • Using a large mixing bowl and an electric mixer combine all the ingredients and beat until smooth.
  • Place the muffin cups in a muffin baking tin.
  • Fill the muffin cups 2/3 cups full.
  • Bake for between 12 and 16 minutes until golden brown (test with a toothpick which when inserted into cake should come out clean)
  • Remove and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Rooibos Tea Icing

250g Soft Butter

600g Icing sugar

20 Rooibos tea bags

200ml Cream

6tbsn Honey


  • Bring the Rooibos teabags, honey and cream to the boil.
  • Reduce heat and allow the syrup to simmer for 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and darkened in color.
  • Allow this mixture to cool completely.
  • Add the softened butter to the rooibos mixture and beat on high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Sift the Icing sugar and add to the mixture beating until creamy. (Add milk if the icing mixture becomes too thick).
  • Ice the cupcakes and decorate with any cake decorations (vermicelli, hundreds & thousands)

Switch to Rooibos - You'll be Pleasantly Surprised

I hope you enjoyed this hub and that you may be tempted to introduce Rooibos Tea into your home, not only as a health drink but for the versatile cooking ingredient that it is.

If I could not persuade you to use Rooibos Tea in your cooking maybe the following tips will convince you of its versatility:-

  • Rooibos is an excellent skin freshener and can be used to clean your face instead of water.
  • Acne can be treated with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 teaspoons of Gluten-free flour added to a cup of warm Rooibos Tea. Allow to stand until lukewarm and apply to face. Leave the Rooibos Mixture on the face for 15 minutes and then rinse off with lukewarm tea. Pat dry.
  • A face-cloth dipped in lukewarm Rooibos will relieve tired and sensitive eyes.
  • Dark-haired people can use Rooibos to give their hair a beautiful healthy shine by adding Rooibos to the final rinse water.
  • Pot Plants thrive on cold left-over Rooibos Tea leaves.
  • Rooibos Tea helps relieve irritated skin and is ideal for rinsing your dog after bathing
  • And last, but not least, if you are tired of struggling to get your campfire burning dip dried Rooibos Teabags in spirits or paraffin and use them as firelighters.

Have you ever used Rooibos Tea in Your Home?

See results

Freshpak Rooibos Tea

Although there are various different brands of Rooibos Tea available on the market the one brand that I can personally recommend is Freshpak. It is the most popular Rooibos Tea in its home country, South Africa and the brand of Rooibos Tea that I have been using daily for many many years. I was pleasantly surprised and absolutely delighted when I discovered that it was available from Amazon.


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    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      5 years ago from Norfolk

      My father loved Rooibos tea. I could not abide the way it smelt but I know there are many people who advocate drinking it for health benefits, some even give it to babies in their bottles. I do recall there was once a microbial risk associated with Salmonella in Rooibos tea, but perhaps this is no longer the case now. It has become increasingly more popular in the UK and can be found in most supermarkets these days. It goes by the name of Red Tea. Interesting article, always nice to be taken back memory lane.

    • Laura du Toit profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura du Toit 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Zampano - Glad I could teach you something about one of our country's special teas!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you Laura for this revelation.

      I had never heard about it.

      I'll look for some of this herbal beverage tomorrow.

    • Laura du Toit profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura du Toit 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks zenofelea - glad I could interest you into drinking a cup of Rooibos Tea! :)

    • zenofelea profile image

      Gary Hemmings 

      9 years ago from UK

      Never cooked with rooibos before but we do have a packet in the cupboard so I might have one tomorrow. I'm impressed by the range of media in you Hub, very accomplished.

    • Laura du Toit profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura du Toit 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for the comments. So glad I can introduce a truly South African product to people from other countries.

    • mega1 profile image


      9 years ago

      I haven't been commenting much lately, but have to say that anything that will be good for my potential pot plants is good enough for me! good one, Laura! and a fine example of your excellent work for HP!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      Wow! I had not heard of this tea before. Thank you for the education. I'll look for it and try some. :-)

    • agaglia profile image

      Annette Gagliardi 

      9 years ago from Minneapolis

      I love roobios tea. I did not know about cooking with it, so thanks for the information. I Love the recipes.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      9 years ago from Tucson, Az

      Good Morning Laura!!

      well, it is morning here in Tucson at any rate :)

      I am so glad I read this

      Roobios is all over/even at walmart! the best though is at World Market but you are right about "once you get used to it :)"

      I will definietly go back and use it in cooking and test that out and my poor ole jade plant could really use some of its help!!

      great article voted up and twittered and shared and everything :)

      love to you and yours

      barbara b

    • Laura du Toit profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura du Toit 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks Denise - glad I could introduce you to Rooibos Tea. Thanks for the comment!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow-I'm a tea drinker and was not aware of this. Great info and I also learned a lot. Now--where do I get some? Never mind-I just read your answer to Paradise, LOL

    • Laura du Toit profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura du Toit 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Paradise Thanks for stopping by. Rooibos Tea is available on Amazon so presumably will be available at other outlets in the USA. I would think that health shops may be a place to start looking if you are interested in buying Rooibos Tea.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      10 years ago from Upstate New York

      Wonderful recipes. I, too, had never heard of Rooibos Tea. I wonder if we can get it here, in the USA.

    • Laura du Toit profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura du Toit 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Glad you took the time to read the hub Simone - Hope you get the opportunity to taste Rooibos Tea!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      10 years ago from San Francisco

      Very interesting- I had never heard of Rooibos before. Thanks for introducing me to it!

    • Laura du Toit profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura du Toit 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks Elana - I personally recommend Rooibos Tea and I am sure that if you buy it once you will never want to drink any other tea. My children grew up drinking Rooibos tea when they were still drinking bottles and to this day we are never without Rooibos Tea. Hope you find some in your area!

    • Lady_E profile image


      10 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks for sharing. It's very healthy Tea. If I see it, I will buy it.

      Happy Easter.

    • Laura du Toit profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura du Toit 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks Lilibees/ Hope you get the opportunity to taste some soon

    • lilibees profile image


      10 years ago

      Great hub I have never heard of this before sounds fabulous thank you for sharing some very great information! Voted up and useful from me!

    • Laura du Toit profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura du Toit 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks Cardelean - hope you find some Rooibos tea in your area - otherwise it is available on Aamazon. Once you are used to drinking Rooibos other tea tastes insipid!

    • cardelean profile image


      10 years ago from Michigan

      Very interesting, I learned a lot. I had never heard of Rooibos tea before, I will have to keep my eye out for it.


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