A Rooibos cocktail movement has taken over bars across the world’s cocktail capitals of London, New York and Cape Town, and has been dubbed by mixologists as this season’s favourite party mixer.

Popular Rooibos-inspired cocktails on drinks menus include gin and Rooibos, bush tea and tequila and a muddle of berries, vermouth, Rooibos and crushed ice, which makes for the perfect summer cooler.

According to experts, bartenders are moving away from overly complex mixes and are creating interesting flavours with a few key ingredients, such as Rooibos. Big liquor brands have also cottoned on to the trend and have launched various tea-based drinks and variants in recent months.

Ernest du Toit, spokesperson of the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) says given the fresh, full and natural flavour profile of Rooibos, you don’t need a lot of different ingredients to achieve the perfect cocktail indulgence.

“Rooibos tea is an easy and effective way to boost any cocktail. A lot of subtleties of Rooibos tea play well off of vodka and specifically gin, since the latter has a lot of the same characteristics as the tea,” he says.

While most cocktails are often packed with just as many calories as a doughnut, Du Toit points out that swapping calorie-rich ingredients for Rooibos – which contains no fat or carbohydrates – offers not only a great slimming alternative, but also contains disease-preventing antioxidants, which protects against cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Try any of these Rooibos-inspired cocktails that’s sure to rock your party:



·     45ml The Black Grouse (or other) Whiskey

·     30ml Rooibos Tea Concentrate

·     150ml Cream Sherry

·     Orange Bitters



·     Combine all ingredients (except bitters) and shake over ice

·     Double strain and garnish with a dash of Orange Bitters




·     6 blackberries

·     45ml Shochu (a trendy Japanese clear distilled spirit similar to vodka)

·     30ml Sweet white vermouth

·     45ml Chilled brewed red Rooibos tea

·     Ice

·     1 lemon twist



·     In a cocktail shaker, muddle 5 berries with the Shochu, vermouth and tea

·     Add ice and stir

·     Pour through a fine strainer into a chilled coupe

·     Garnish with the remaining berry and the twist




·     500ml strong Rooibos tea, cooled

·     500ml peach juice

·     At least 100ml vodka

·     1 lemon, thinly sliced

·     Handful fresh mint leaves

·     2 peaches, thinly sliced



·     Combine all the ingredients in a large jug and stir well

·     Serve over ice




·     60ml Rooibos Espresso Tea

·     30ml cherry vodka

·     15 ml milk

·     ½ cup of ice

·     Garnish: Cherries



·     In a serving glass add Rooibos Espresso, cherry vodka, and ice

·     Stir mixture then add milk

·     Garnish with Cherries




·       3 cups of Rooibos Chai tea

·       1 cup of cranberry juice

·       120ml vodka

·       30ml Limoncello

·       Cranberries and/or thinly sliced lemons for garnish



·       Pour 3 cups boiling water over 2 tbsp. Rooibos Chai tea

·       Steep for 10 minutes, and then strain

·       Refrigerate until cold. (To chill instantly, brew tea in 1 1/2 cups water & strain over 1 1/2 cups ice)

·       Combine chilled tea with 1 cup chilled cranberry juice, 120ml vodka, and 30ml Limoncello

·       Shake over ice. Serve well chilled in martini glasses, champagne flutes, or short tumblers. Garnish with cranberries and/or thinly sliced lemons

·       Makes 4 cups (1 litre)




·       750ml strong, cold Rooibos

·       1litre apple juice

·       1litre granadilla/ passion fruit juice

·       1litre strawberry juice

·       2 bottles (750m leach) of sparkling red grape juice

·       1 punnet of strawberries, sliced

·       1 orange, sliced

·       Fresh mint leaves



·       Mix Rooibos, apple, granadilla and strawberry juices and chill.

·       Add chilled sparkling grape juice.

·       Garnish with strawberries, orange and mint.



Ingredients and method

·       Make a 1/4 cup of Rooibos Tea.

·       Add the Rooibos to 3 litres of your favourite gin.

·       Allow to steep for 3 hours at room temperature.

·       Enjoy and mix with your favourite cocktail.




·       750ml Brandy

·       2 cloves

·       2 sticks of cinnamon

·       750ml strong, hot Rooibos

·       600g white sugar (750ml)

·       25ml honey



·       Add cloves and cinnamon to the brandy, shake the bottle and allow it to infuse overnight.

·       Heat sugar and Rooibos tea over moderate heat until sugar has dissolved.

·       Boil uncovered for 20 minutes.

·       Remove from heat and stir in honey.

·       Remove cloves and cinnamon from the brandy.

·       Add the brandy to the tea syrup and mix well.

·       Pour into sterilized bottles and seal.




Already considered one of the most powerful superfoods on the market today, Rooibos tea’s antioxidant army also packs a protective punch against heart disease, research shows.

Local and international studies are repeatedly reinforcing this discovery, with the latest study, conducted by Spanish researchers, showing that drinking Rooibos can prevent the development of heart disease by inhibiting the liver from storing excessive fat under the skin and around major organs. These researchers also determined that Rooibos not only reduces the number and size of fat cells, but also completely prevents the development of fatty liver disease – a condition where fat accumulates in the cells of the liver.

The study also confirmed that the complex mix of antioxidants in Rooibos are jointly responsible for its beneficial effects, and that it is therefore better to drink Rooibos tea, rather than isolated compounds from Rooibos.

These findings add further weight to an earlier South African study led by Professor Jeanine Marnewick, a specialist researcher at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), who was able to show a positive effect in adults at risk of heart disease, who drank six cups of Rooibos every day for six weeks.

Her study showed that Rooibos not only protected against oxidative lipid damage, but also favourably improved the lipid profile of the participants by reducing total blood cholesterol levels by 10%, with a significant reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.

A third study conducted in Sweden found that 30 to 60 minutes after drinking 400 ml of Rooibos, the activity of a specific enzyme (called angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ace) is significantly suppressed. This enzyme is believed to be involved in the development of cardiovascular disease, and therefore ace inhibitors are used to treat hypertension and heart disease.

The main heart-health promoting substance in Rooibos tea is the antioxidant Chrysoeriol. It helps to prevent and treat vascular disease by inhibiting the migration of smooth muscle cells inside the aorta, a key cause of the narrowing or hardening of the arteries that may lead to a heart attack. Chrysoeriol is also an effective bronchodilator, and helps to lower blood pressure and relieve spasms.

Ernest du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) says it is very encouraging that leading research institutions around the world are working on Rooibos and are repeatedly producing such promising results.

“With more South Africans dying from heart disease and stroke than ever before, these studies underline the value of Rooibos as a widely available, affordable and uniquely South African product rich in dietary antioxidants, which promotes heart-health.

“Rooibos, in combination with an overall healthy diet with whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables, and less processed foods, could significantly reduce the risk of heart disease,” says du Toit.


The South African Rooibos Council invests significantly into the research of Rooibos’ health properties. This year the Council is supporting research projects at several local universities focusing on the anti-aging potential of Rooibos as well as its effect on immunity.

Summaries of the most recent rooibos studies published in top peer-reviewed scientific journals can be found on the website of the SA Rooibos Council at


Issued by Meropa Communications on behalf of the South African Rooibos Council. For more information contact Brigitte Taim on 021 683 6464 or


Notes to editor:


Shocking stats paint stark reality of heart disease in SA:

·       Approximately 6.3 million South Africans are living with high blood pressure

·       Premature deaths due to heart and blood vessel diseases in people of working age (35 – 64 years) are expected to increase by 41% between now and 2030

·       Statistics show that about 130 heart attacks and 240 strokes occur daily in SA, which means that 10 people will suffer a stroke and five will have a heart attack every hour

Rooibos can help you shed over a kilo a month

One of the best-kept weight-loss secrets could already be in your pantry. Celebs swear by it, and research confirms that Rooibos tea is the ideal way to help you slim down this summer.

By swapping just one cup of coffee for Rooibos tea every day, you could lose as much as a kilo every month. Most of us load our coffee with sugary syrups, honey, whipped cream or milk and sugar which can add anything from 35 to 250+ calories per cup. And if one considers that the average South African knocks back about four cups of coffee a day, drinking Rooibos instead could lead to a whopping 7 – 14kg shed in a year.

Ernest du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council, says the indigenous tea offers dieters a healthy, enjoyable and sustainable way to lose weight.

“Rooibos tea contains no fat or carbohydrates and its weight-loss properties further extends to inhibiting fat-storage hormones within the body. Rooibos’s unique Bioflavonoid, Aspalathin, helps to reduce stress hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage, typically associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. In a nutshell, Rooibos tea can prevent the body from storing and even forming new fat cells.

“Rooibos tea is also caffeine-free and naturally sweet so there’s no need to add extra sugar. Plus it comes in a variety of flavours like berry, cinnamon, mint and citrus. It’s also 100% natural with no additives, no preservatives and no chemicals,” he says.

“Drinking Rooibos tea instead of a regular 35+ calorie cup of coffee (enjoyed with milk and a spoonful of sugar) or a 100+ calorie carbonated drink will automatically reduce your calorie intake, which should put you well on your way to losing centimetres.”

A-list celebrities sporting already svelte figures such as Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta Jones and supermodel Cindy Crawford all swear by Rooibos’s health benefits.

Drinking up to six cups a day – hot or cold – along with a healthy and balanced diet, will provide you with the maximum health and weight-loss benefits that Rooibos tea can offer.


Latest findings on polyphenols and antioxidants in Rooibos

Stellenbosch, 28 August 2012

In a three-year study supported by the SA Rooibos Council (2009 – 2011) Prof Lizette Joubert and her team at the Nietvoorbij Research Institute of Agricultural Research Council looked at the variation in phenolic content and antioxidant activity of fermented Rooibos tea, and how this is affected by different production seasons and quality grades.

The aim of this study was to generate representative content values for the principal monomeric phenolic compounds present in a ‘cup-of-tea’ rooibos infusion as normally consumed (regular, fermented Rooibos tea).

Samples were obtained from different geographical areas, and different producers, to capture as much potential variation in the phenolic composition and antioxidant activity as possible to create a representative data set suitable for inclusion in food composition databases. A total of 114 Rooibos samples were analysed over three productions seasons (2009, 2010 and 2011) and quality grades (A, B, C and D).

Their research article based on the outcomes of this study has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry (published online on 24 Aug 2012 – see

Key findings from the study

  1. The major phenolic constituents in fermented rooibos are isoorientin and orientin (> 10 mg/L), with quercetin-3-robinobioside, phenylpyruvic acid glucoside and aspalathin present at > 5 mg/L. Isovitexin, vitexin and hyperoside were present at < 3 mg/L, rutin, ferulic acid and isoquercitrin at < 2 mg/L and nothofagin at < 1 mg/L. Only traces of luteolin-7-O27 glucoside and the aglycones quercetin, luteolin, and chrysoeriol were present. (See Table 5 in research article.)
  2. Substantial variation was observed in the individual content values of the phenolic compounds and total antioxidant capacity within production seasons and quality grades.
  3. Production season had no significant effect on the total polyphenol content.
  4. The higher quality grade samples tend to be associated with higher levels of the phenolic compounds (Table 6). Grade A samples had the highest mean values for most phenolic compounds and also contained significantly higher levels of aspalathin, isoquercitrin, rutin, hyperoside and quercetin-3-O-robinobioside than the other grades.

New Research Summaries Released

Rooibos has captured the imagination of researchers and food scientists around the world and has already featured in more than hundred articles in leading international scientific journals. The Rooibos Council has initiated a communications programme to make these scientific results more accessible and user-friendly for consumers, buyers and industry members. Summaries of key findings with the complete scientific references have been compiled and will be updated as new research results and reviews become available.

Download Rooibos Science Research Summaries

Rooibos Biodiversity Best Practices Launched in Oct 2008

The Rooibos Council has launched a world-first biodiversity project, which involves a pilot group of Rooibos producers implementing Biodiversity Best Practice Guidelines. The industry has joined hands with conservation authorities and government stakeholders to develop these guidelines to protect the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor’s important biodiversity and ensure sustainable production of Rooibos. The Rooibos Biodiversity Initiative forms part of the Rooibos Council’s portfolio for natural resources management.

The Rooibos Biodiversity Initiative features on the website of C.A.P.E. (Cape Partnership for People and the Environment), which hosts an extensive biodiversity information library.
Visit the CAPE website

Download release document.


Attending the launch of the Rooibos Biodiversity Guidelines on 28 October 2008 were Willie Nel, SA Rooibos Council director and participant of the biodiversity pilot project, Jenifer Gouza, project co-ordinator for CapeNature’s Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor, Dawie de Villiers, SARC director: natural resources management portfolio, and Gerhard Pretorius, SARC biodiversity project manager.


Rooibos and potato farmers attended the biodiversity open day at Donkieskraal farm in the Sandveld to learn about the benefits of preserving on-farm biodiversity and methods to implement best practice production.


Results from a clinical trial showing that Rooibos significantly reduces the risk of heart disease were announced at a Rooibos Science Café at the MTN ScienCentre in Cape Town on 26 November 2008. About 150 members of the media, health sector and the Rooibos industry attended the event and were delighted about this new and conclusive evidence of the health promoting properties of Rooibos in humans.

Researchers traced the protective effect of Rooibos by looking at two important markers in the blood, as well as the oxidative status of the 40 adults who participated in the study. They found a significant decrease in conjugated dienes and malondialdehydes of 35% and 50% respectively – two blood markers that indicate oxidative damage – in the group that drank six cups of Rooibos per day for 6 weeks. “This means that Rooibos may help to slow down atherosclerosis, or the hardening of arteries,” explained Dr Jeanine Marnewick, who led the clinical trial at the Oxidative Stress Research Centre at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. On top of this, Rooibos also increased the levels of the body’s own ‘super anti-oxidant’ called glutathione and helped to reduce the levels of “bad” LDL-cholesterol significantly.

“This is incredible news for Rooibos and the public,” said Mientjie Mouton, a director of the South African Rooibos Council. “We need scientific evidence to substantiate what we have always known – that Rooibos is good for you!”

Dr Marnewick also explained that they asked study participants for feedback on how they felt during the clinical trial. “Many of them reported feeling irritated during the washout period when they could not drink Rooibos, and much calmer once they were enjoying their six cups of Rooibos per day. That is why she will continue the clinical trial to look at the effect of Rooibos and stress.”

At the same science café Dr Carl Albrecht, head of Research at the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) gave an overview of nearly a decade of research at South Africa’s Medical Research Council into the ability of Rooibos to prevent or slow down cancer. He also emphasised the importance of the ability of Rooibos to reduce oxidative stress in the body, as shown by the results of a study on rats, published in 2003. “I am elated that Dr Marnewick and her team were now able to prove that Rooibos also has this effect in the human body,” he added. Oxidative stress plays a role in the development of a whole range of diseases, including cancer, stroke, heart and liver disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Another important milestone was the discovery, published in 2004, that Rooibos can prevent and slow down skin cancer in mice. “The next challenge is to prove that Rooibos can also prevent cancer in people, and I believe that there is a good chance that we’ll be able to prove this,” Dr Albrecht said.

This Rooibos Science Café was organised by the South African Rooibos Council who invests in Rooibos research, along with funding partners such as South Africa’s National Research Foundation as well as the Medical Research Council and CANSA.

New study proves Rooibos’ antioxidant potency in humans

A collaborative study by scientists at four international research facilities has found the first clinical evidence that drinking rooibos tea significantly increases the antioxidant capacity in human blood, thereby boosting the body’s natural defences.

The researchers in Rome and Glasgow found that the antioxidant capacity in the blood of 15 healthy volunteers peaked one hour after drinking 500ml ready-to-drink rooibos tea. Both traditional (fermented) and green (unfermented) rooibos tea had a significant effect.

“On the basis of the results of our study, we conclude that Rooibos tea is able to deliver antioxidant ingredients to the body, thereby stimulating the body’s internal redox network,” says Professor Mauro Serafini, leader of this research project and Head of the Antioxidant Research Laboratory at INRAN, a nutrition research insitute in Rome, Italy. “It is highly possible that, once absorbed in the circulatory stream, the unique ingredients of Rooibos may display other biological activities in the human body. That is why we are planning further intervention studies in humans to investigate the effect of Rooibos tea on the body’s strategy of defence to counteract the development of heart disease.”

“After an hour, the plasma antioxidant levels start to drop and that is why we recommend drinking up to six cups of rooibos spaced throughout the day for a sustained health benefit,” explains Professor Jeanine Marnewick from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She led a recent study that showed the beneficial effect of drinking six cups of rooibos a day to promote heart health.

Numerous studies over the past few decades have helped scientists to understand the complex and unique blend of antioxidants found in rooibos. They have also proved that the active compounds in rooibos are bioavailable and are metabolised (converted) in the body. The significance of the latest study is that it provides the first direct evidence that rooibos boosts antioxidant levels in the blood of healthy humans.

“This new research proves that the compounds in rooibos are potent enough to have a measurable effect on the antioxidant capacity of the blood,” says Professor Lizette Joubert, one of South Africa’s leading rooibos researchers, working on the quality and chemical composition of rooibos at South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council.

The most active antioxidant in rooibos – aspalathin – is unique to the plant species Aspalathus linearis. This fynbos plant thrives in the Western Cape’s Cedarberg region where it is commercially cultivated and wild-harvested for the production of rooibos tea.

“This study underlines the value of rooibos as a widely available and affordable source of dietary antioxidants,” comments Mientjie Mouton, chair of the Product Research Committee of the South African Rooibos Council. “It is very encouraging that leading research institutions around the world are working on rooibos and producing such promising results. There is also a great deal of work being done by local rooibos researchers and we will continue to invest in this research.”

The South African Rooibos Council invests some R1 million a year to fund research into rooibos’ health properties. This year the Council is supporting research projects at several local universities and science councils focusing on how rooibos can counter cancer and stress, as well as the link between rooibos and exercise. A project on rooibos and obesity has been approved for funding in 2011.

Summaries of the most recent rooibos studies published in top peer-reviewed scientific journals can be found on the website of the SA Rooibos Council at

Notes to editors

The collaborative research was carried out at: Antioxidant Research Laboratory, Human Nutrition Unit, INRAN, Rome; Food and Nutrition Unit, IRCCS, Rome; Plant Products and Human Nutrition Group, University of Glasgow; Diabetes Unit, San Camillo Forlanini Hospital, Rome.
The study has been published in Food Chemistry: Villaño, D., et al. 2010. Unfermented and fermented rooibos teas (Aspalathus linearis) increase plasma total antioxidant capacity in healthy humans. Food Chemistry 123 (2016) 679-683.


The SA Rooibos Council supports several researchers at local universities and science councils to explore the quality and health properties of Rooibos. The scientific evidence that they produce is crucial to substantiate health claims of Rooibos, and provides a basis for the development of new value-added Rooibos products.

The following product research projects are currently supported:

Developing objective quality and sensory parameters for Rooibos
Research leader: Professor Lizette Joubert, Agricultural Research Council

This project aims to characterise a typical cup of Rooibos according to its total polyphenol content, the major individual flavonoids and antioxidant capacity. The research team is analysing hundreds of Rooibos tea samples from different regions and seasons, from 2009 into 2011.

A key finding so far is that pasteurisation decreases chemical parameters and colour values for Rooibos tea. The researchers were also able to demonstrate that high quality Rooibos (as measured by its sensory attributes such as taste and mouthfeel) has higher levels of soluble solids and total polyphenols.

This research is complemented by a project aimed at a comprehensive description of the taste, flavour and aroma of Rooibos, and the development of a “flavour and mouth-feel wheel” to support the local and international Rooibos trade. THRIP (Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme) is a co-funder. Professor Joubert presented the latest version of the flavour wheel at the Research Day on 17 May 2011.

The influence of Rooibos on stress
Research leader: Professor Amanda Swart, Stellenbosch University

Rooibos is widely used as a herbal tea for enhancing well-being, supporting the immune system and combating stress. During stress, which is characterised by anxiety, sleeplessness and depression, there is an increased production of stress hormones. Professor Swart’s project looks at the influence of Rooibos on the biosynthesis of cortisol, since the inhibition of cortisol biosynthesis may alleviate stress symptoms, thus validating the anti-stress potential of Rooibos.

So far her team has been able to show that Rooibos decreases the levels of corticosterone in rats (the equivalent hormone in humans is cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone”). Rooibos is further able to enhance the inactivation of corticosterone to an inactive metabolite. This finding may have clinical applications in the treatment of hypertension and metabolic syndrome. Interestingly enough, they also found that Rooibos increases testosterone levels in male rats.

Rooibos and exercise
Research leader: Professor Jeanine Marnewick, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Antioxidants play a vital role in protecting tissues from excessive oxidative damage during exercise. With this project, Professor Marnewick and her team want to determine whether the antioxidants in Rooibos, already found to protect the body against other conditions linked to oxidative stress, can also help to protect against exercise-induced oxidative stress, including biochemical damage and inflammatory responses in cells. They will look at the effect of Rooibos on sport performance in a group of volunteers who will take part in several acute exercise regimes. Between 30 and 40 volunteers will take part in the clinical trial during this project. The project kicked off in 2010, but requires an extensive amount of preparatory and analytical work, and therefore there are no findings to report yet.

What exactly is in a cup of Rooibos tea?
Research leader: Professor Andrew Marston, University of the Free State

Despite extensive studies on the polyphenols in Rooibos, relatively little is known about the polar fraction of the tea that is composed largely of polysaccharides and tannins. This study focuses on that part of the chemical makeup of Rooibos, and may in future help us understand how these components influence the sensory characteristics of the tea, as well as how they contribute to its health properties, including an influence on resistance to disease, cancer prevention and ageing.

The researchers prepared a polysaccharide-rich fraction of Rooibos tea and demonstrated – for the first time – that this fraction of Rooibos could stimulate the immune system (or has an immunomodulatory effect). They are now busy with further isolation of the different polysaccharides, characterizing them and testing the activity of the individual polysaccharides.

As far as the tannin-rich fraction of Rooibos is concerned, the team is using high-performance countercurrent chromatography to isolate these tannin compounds. They will then determine the structures of these tannins and study their biological activities.

Investigating the cancer-prevention properties of South African herbal teas
Research leader: Professor Wentzel Gelderblom, Medical Research Council

The complex mix of antioxidants in Rooibos is able to delay or prevent several kinds of cancer, and helps to protect us against carcinogens in our environment. Prof Gelderblom and his team are trying to unravel the complex interactions that take place in living cells to help us to understand how Rooibos achieves this cancer preventing effect. New data on the cancer preventing properties of green rooibos provide new opportunities in developing a product to protect against the effect of UV light-induced cell damage in the skin. This is a long-term project that has been ongoing at the MRC (with co-funding from many partners) for more than ten years.

The microbiological quality and safety of Rooibos
Research leader: Professor Pieter Gouws, University of the Western Cape

Prof Gouws and his team investigate the influence of processing on the microbiological quality of Rooibos. They look at how different microorganisms may be able to survive and even multiply during steps such as fermentation and steam pasteurisation and storage. They are focusing specifically on organisms that may be of public health concern. The aim is to advise the industry on critical control points (CCP) in a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.

Could Rooibos help to battle the bulge?
Research leader: Professor Johan Louw, Medical Research Council

Worldwide there is a growing interest in the role of polyphenols (chemical substances found in plants) in the fight against obesity. Rooibos is rich in polyphenols and could potentially help to battle the bulge. This new project kicks off in 2011 and will investigate the impact of Rooibos extract on satiety, as well as the processes whereby the body stores and breaks down fat.