What Is Red Tea?

by Susan Paretts ; Updated September 28, 2017

In some Asian countries, the phrase "red tea" may actually refer to traditional black tea.

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Red tea, also known as rooibos tea, is made from the antioxidant-rich leaves of the rooibos plant (Aspalathus linearis), an herb native to South Africa. This slightly sweet, mild herbal tea is caffeine free and has a reddish hue, which is where its name originates.

Seeing Red...Tea

Rooibos, also known as African red bush, grows near Cape Town, in the Cederberg region. To produce red tea, manufacturers harvest and chop the needle-shaped green leaves of the rooibos plants, which are then dampened and fermented for 12 hours. Once fermented, the leaves oxidize, turning red before they are dried and sold as loose or bagged tea. When steeped in hot water, the resulting liquid has a reddish-amber hue and an earthy taste that isn't bitter because it's low in tannins. You can drink it alone or with milk, sugar, honey or lemon. This somewhat astringent tea is rich in antioxidants, including quercetin, aspalathin and nothofagin, all of which have anti-inflammatory and calming properties, according to the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry," published in July 2009.

Red Letter Day...With Tea

To make red tea, combine 1 to 2 teaspoons of red tea leaves per cup of hot water, recommends the South African Rooibos Council. Steep the tea for 2 minutes or more, depending on how concentrated you want the flavor. To make iced red tea, use twice the amount of dry tea per cup of hot water and pour it over ice. Mix red tea with vanilla, fruit juice or other herbs for different flavor combinations.

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About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.