All about Bush Tea

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Depending on where you are in the world, some varieties of tea are more popular than others. Black tea is more commonly grown in Western countries while green tea is more commonly grown in Asian countries and white tea is almost grown exclusively in Asian countries. There is one, more obscure tea though that is often overlooked in Africa, and that is rooibos tea.

What is Bush Tea?

Rooibos tea, also known as red bush tea, is a unique tea grown in South Africa. While it is known as red bush tea, the leaves are not actually red before they are picked. It is not until the leaves are picked, dried, and bruised that they turn their distinct red color.

Color aside, another thing that makes bush tea different from other teas is its caffeine content. Bush tea naturally contains no caffeine.

As far as flavor goes, bush tea is capable of tasting a few different ways depending on how it is prepared. If left unoxidized, bush tea tends to have a more earthy flavor. If allowed to oxidize, bush tea tends to have a more floral, fruity flavor.

How is Bush Tea Brewed?

Bush tea is as easy to brew as tea comes. Simply bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the boiling water to a teacup then add one teaspoon of tea, or a teabag, to the boiling water. Allow it to steep for five minutes, then enjoy!

There is a more traditional way to brew bush tea as well. It is not especially complicated, but it is a little unusual. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and add one teaspoon of tea leaves to the pot for every cup of tea you plan on making. What makes this method a little unusual is how long the tea leaves need to steep in the boiling water. After the tea leaves are added to the boiling water, reduce the heat and simmer the tea for 30 minutes.

The vast majority of tea will be absolutely ruined if you allow it to steep for 30 minutes. In fact, most tea can not even be brewed in boiling water or it will be ruined. Caffeine is extracted more quickly in hot water, if allowed to steep too long it causes the tea to become bitter. However there is no caffeine in bush tea so this is not as much of an issue.

After the tea has been allowed to simmer for 30 minutes, it is strained into a cup and ready to be enjoyed. It is recommended that you add a splash of milk to your bush tea if you are making it the traditional way.

Is Iced Bush Tea a Possibility?

Most tea can be enjoyed iced. However, not all tea can be brewed cold, and bush tea is one of those teas. If you want to drink your bush tea chilled it needs to be brewed as if you were going to drink it hot, then simply allow it to chill before drinking it.

Bush Tea Origins

The indiginous population of South Africa have harvested and drank bush tea for so long that it can no longer be remembered when exactly they started brewing it. Bush tea was first introduced outside of Africa by the Dutch who were first introduced to it by the indiginous population of South Africa in the 1700’s. It is still exported today to most of the world, though it is not as popular as most tea on the market.

How is Bush Tea Prepared?

Bush tea plants are hardy plants grown only in South Africa. Because they are hardy they do need to be watered often, which makes them ideal for the very dry environment the plants grow in.

While the plants are hardy, they do not produce a lot of leaves. As such, bush tea plants are only harvested once a year. After being harvested, there are two different ways for the tea leaves to be prepared. They can be fermented, which results in the red bush tea leaves that rooibos tea is named after. Alternatively, the leaves can be dried in sunlight which results in the less well known green rooibos tea.

Rich in Antioxidants

One more thing that makes bush tea so popular is how rich it is in antioxidants. Bush tea actually has roughly 50% more antioxidants than even green tea, which was already very high in antioxidants on its own! The high levels of antioxidants have been shown to be great for helping build your immune system and is great for preventing inflammation.


Bush tea is a unique tea grown in South Africa. Technically, it is not grown from a tea plant so it is not really a tea, but it is brewed like a tea and considered one. It has no natural caffeine content and is mostly drunk because of its enjoyable flavor and nutritional value. Bush tea is a very significant source of antioxidants.

This tea is exclusively grown in South Africa, but it is often exported to the rest of the world. It was first exported to the rest of the world by the Dutch after it was introduced to them by the indiginous population in the 1700’s. While not the most common tea on the market, it is not impossible to find.

There are two varieties of bush tea, red rooibos tea and green rooibos tea. While they come from the same plant they have very different flavor profiles. As far as their nutritional value goes, both varieties are more or less the same.

There is a lot to take in with this lesser known tea, but it is very much worth the time try some if you can!