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.



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.