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What is Rooibos?
Rooibos is a shrub of South African origin, its scientific name is Aspalathus linearis. Also known as "red shrub". The plant has small yellow flowers that bloom in late spring or near the beginning of the hot summer. This plant does not contain caffeine..
Although rooibos consumption dates back to the 17th century, it is not until 1903 that Benjamin Ginsberg, a young russian-born merchant, met rooibos in the Grootkloof Valley, ten or fifteen kilometres from Hexrivier in South Africa, began buying rooibos from harvesters and selling it to his customers in the area. Ginsberg also encouraged local farmers to collect and process rooibos on a large scale.
In the late 1920s, the growing demand for rooibos caused problems with the supply of wild plants. As a remedy, Dr. Pieter Lefras Nortier, a district surgeon in Clanwilliam, developed together with farmers Oloff Bergh and William Riordan a variety cultivated to breed on properly located land. Nortier's variety has become the mainstay of the rooibos industry allowing it to expand and create income and jobs for the inhabitants of rooibos-producing regions.
The leaves of the tree are allowed to oxidize in the sun, this oxidative process is the one that gives the plant the characteristic taste and 'red' color. There is also an "un fermented" (i.e. non-oxidized) production called green rooibos,this variety is marketed at a higher price than the "fermented" variety and has a characteristic yellowish color; it has a large amount of antioxidant polyphenols.
Features and properties
With rooibos you can make a reddish infusion of very pleasant flavor that reminds something of the taste of nuts. It is slightly sweet (contains no sugar, but its taste seems to remember it).
Unlike tea infused from Camellia sinensis leaves, it has no caffeine or similar alkaloids, so it can be taken by both children and people with hypertension problems. In some cases, laboratory research has been conducted on the possible use to inhibit the formation of tumors linked to skin cancer by using a topical ointment with Rooibos extracts. Its anti-mutagenic effects have also been studied
Some of the popular properties of rooibos infusion are:
Antioxidant and anti-free radical effect: its contribution of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C, flavonoids, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and quercithin help fight free radicals that are the main responsible for the agingprocess, metabolic stress and many diseases.
Rooibos contains minerals such as magnesium, zinc, manganese, iron and calcium; it is also rich in vitamin C.
Rooibos contains polyphenols, organic chemicals with a great antioxidant capacity.
As we said rooibos has no caffeine, (no theine, if we prefer the term, although it is the same molecule) which makes it excellent for people who do not want or can not take stimulants.
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