Rooibos and green rooibos share many health benefits and ongoing research continues to astound us with new findings regarding its health benefits. Green rooibos has a higher polyphenol content than fermented Rooibos and therefore higher antioxidant levels. It is naturally caffeine-free and known to relieve allergies, sleep disorders, digestive problems, headaches and more. Being kilojoule and preservative free it is also ideal for supporting weight-loss. Green rooibos can be enjoyed by the whole family from as young as 6 months old and its calming effect makes it an excellent drink for hyperactive children. A recent study conducted at Stellenbosch University has found that unfermented Green Rooibos tea boasts multiple health benefits including reducing anxiety.
Positive research shows the protective plant compounds in green rooibos, which include various polyphenols, may protect the body against free radical damage which leads to conditions like heart disease, diabetes (type 2) and cancer. Rooibos tea has anti-diabetic properties thanks to the glucose-lowering compound aspalathin. In addition to lowering high blood sugar, phenol compounds in rooibos protect blood-sugar regulating cells in the pancreas against damage, reports the 2016 edition of medical journal PLOS One. These compounds may also protect against osteoporosis.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cell DNA, leading to cancer. These free radicals can also oxidize cholesterol, causing clogged blood vessels, heart attacks, and strokes. The antioxidants in Green Rooibos can neutralize these free radicals and help to limit their impact. Read more about these studies here and here. If your focus is on antioxidants only, green rooibos is even more beneficial than fermented rooibos and a great boost to the immune system.
The difference between Green & Red
Just as with black (Camelia Sinensis) and green tea, the difference lies in the processing. Rooibos (red bush) go through a fermentation (oxidation) process which turns the green leaves into a reddish brown colour and develops its distinctive aroma while with green rooibos, the fermentation process is skipped, and the “green” leaves and stems are dried directly.
To ensure the natural oxidation process is stopped completely, the leaves are dried by hot air in a closed unit as soon as possible after cutting. This preserves high-quality green rooibos with optimum phenolic content, low moisture content, and excellent control of microbial activities to prevent any discolouring of the green leaves, giving it a longer storage time.
Why does it blend well with different products/ingredients?
Green Rooibos has a less strong ‘earthy’ flavour compared to Rooibos. Instead it has a slightly sweet, fresh, mild green/ grassy taste without the bitterness of Camelia Sinensis green tea. This makes it a perfect basis for blending with other herbs. It does not overpower any other flavours, instead it compliments them. The green Rooibos base also enhances the bright colours of certain botanicals in loose leaf blends.
Unlike the intense red cup infusion of fermented Rooibos and the bright, yellowish green of green tea, the colour of Green Rooibos is golden orange, intense and clear. Even the dry leaves are not a pure bright green, but have a light yellow-orange colour.
While the red/fermented Rooibos goes well with milk, Green Rooibos is best enjoyed pure. Both are great as iced teas, refreshing, lightly sweet and caffeine-free.
The Carmién Green Rooibos plant
Both red and green Rooibos come from the same plant, Aspalathus Linearis. Rooibos seeds are sown from February to March and the seedlings transplanted a few months later. It takes about 18 months before plants can be harvested for the first time. In the first year of planting the plant only gets topped and these toppings are used for Green Rooibos. These green needle-like leaves are gently harvested in winter months, carefully handled and immediately dried to stay green.
Every Spring the plant is covered with small yellow flowers. Each flower produces a small legume with a single seed inside which pops out when ripe. Seeds are collected and prepared for sowing by rubbing the hard outer shell (a process called scarification) to ensure good germination.
The process of making Green Rooibos
Green Rooibos branches are cut and bound into sheaves & transported to the drying yard where the sheaves are machine-cut to uniform lengths of between 1.5 mm and 5 mm. When cutting the rooibos leaves, the plant cells are broken which activates the plant phenolic activity, automatically starting the fermentation process.
To ensure this natural oxidation process is stopped completely, the leaves are dried by hot air in a closed unit as soon as possible after cutting. This preserves high-quality Green Rooibos with optimum phenolic content, low moisture content, and excellent control of microbial activities to prevent any discolouring of the green leaves, giving it a longer storage time. Once dry the Green Rooibos is graded according to length, colour, flavour and aroma. The product is then sent in bulk or retail packs (teabags or loose leaf) to various packers and exporters worldwide.