We’re sniffing out (literally and figuratively) great teas and herbals all the time. That’s part of our very fun and rewarding career in specialty tea retailing. One of the best possible experiences is when you find that gem, that jewel, that diamond of a tea or herbal where the blender has hit the bull’s eye. We found one recently and it’s, of all things, a green rooibos.
We buy from what I consider to be the best blenders and tea-selecting importers in the world and some don’t even carry green rooibos because, in their experience, it just doesn’t sell. I understood why when I tasted unblended as well as blended green rooibos in the past. Most people probably just wouldn’t think it was the greatest tasting infusion. Some of our customers might buy it for its health benefits, but most would pass on it.
So, on an ordinary day, during an ordinary tasting, we looked at yet another sample of rooibos that had come in. Somewhat reluctantly, we tasted it, but this time, our reaction was “You’ve GOT to be kidding me!” Lights began flashing, music began playing, and bells began ringing. It was fruity, but warm, with a slight hint of coconut (although there isn’t any in the blend), and great hot or iced. And it was a green rooibos!
Green rooibos is what I would call the green tea of rooibos. Unfermented, it may just be the healthiest herbal infusion ever. It has a lighter taste than fermented rooibos, much as green tea compared with black, but it doesn’t ever get bitter or astringent, as green tea can if brewed improperly. That’s because rooibos is so low in tannins. It also has no caffeine, so it is the perfect evening or bedtime drink.
Livestrong.com cites the following:
“In a review of studies on the bioactivity of South African herbal teas, including both rooibos and honeybush, USDA researchers Diane L. McKay and Jeffrey B. Blumberg found that the fermentation process reduced the bioactive compounds present in rooibos plant materials. Multiple studies show that both red and green rooibos teas contain several phenolic compounds. However, the concentration of these bioactive ingredients is significantly higher in green rooibos than in red rooibos.”
I’ve read that green rooibos has up to 100 times the antioxidants of fermented rooibos. Livestrong.com goes on to say:
“In an article in the 2009 issue of ‘Food and Chemical Toxicology,’ researchers reported that while all teas showed some chemoprotective properties, green rooibos tea seemed to have the most powerful effect.”
Back to the really delicious one we found. In our suburban SoCal shop, we are selling about 5 pounds of this gem a week. Why? Taste and benefits. People who already feel so much better from drinking fermented rooibos are lining up to get a crack at this new, delicious, green rooibos blend. When you work hard to find the best, your customers will reward you! (We’re drinking a lot of it too!)
I just wrote an article for TEA A Magazine on rooibos. During my investigation, I discovered green rooibos. Truth is, I never even heard of it before. You’re absolutely right that it’s a power house for health. I love that it’s caffeine free just like its red sister. I liken it to the difference between green and black tea. Same plant, different processing. As is true with green tea, I believe it to be the healthier beverage than black – although lovers of black will disagree. Another huge benefit for the masses, oversteeping won’t affect the taste. My only problem has been finding a seller. I’m delighted to hear you’ve got some. Can’t wait to try some.
Michelle, the link to ours is in my post. I think you, even as a purist, would enjoy this blend. Very subtle, very ‘warm’ and comforting hot, yet delicious iced as well. We describe it to customers as ‘the green tea’ of rooibos.
Diane, congrats on finding the “right” green rooibos. We’ve kicked around a couple of times, realize there is potential there, have a few athletes and health concious customers for it but still feel we haven’t figured it out. You’ve inspired us to give it another go.
Thanks, Guy..inspiring you is a big deal for me, seriously! I’m kicking around some ideas about passionate and knowledgeable tea retailers ‘linking up’ (as opposed to linking in) to benefit all concerned. Any serious independent retailer interested, please feel free to get in touch. There are a number of ways for retailers who have knowledge and experience to help eachother gain market share while still keeping their identity.
FYI – Fresh Green Rooibos is more green than the picture…problem is that it oxidizes over time…
The photo is not ours. :)