Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. And with all the evidence researchers have discovered about its health benefits, a humble cup of tea may also be one of our best defenses against illness, aging and disease.
A number of studies have linked tea consumption, particularly green tea, to improved health. Research indicates that it contains compounds called polyphenols—antioxidants that neutralize disease-causing free radicals.
There are four primary polyphenols in green tea that are believed to increase longevity by boosting the immune system, regulating cholesterol levels and alleviating the inflammation associated with arthritis. They have also been shown to decrease the risk of certain cancers, including that of the bladder, stomach, liver and breast. Even black tea, the variety favored by most tea drinkers in the United States, has been proven to prevent blood clots and lower the risk of heart disease.
Scientists are now seeing red and turning their focus to rooibos (roy-boss) or red tea, so named because of the deep garnet color of its leaves. This naturally caffeine-free tea is indigenous to South Africa, where it’s been touted for its medicinal properties since the early 1900s.
Rooibus, in fact, is Afrikaans for “red bush.” South Africans were the first to discover the tea’s ability to ease headaches, digestive problems, allergy symptoms and colic. It’s also used to combat irritability, insomnia and tension. Moreover, red tea is high in vitamin C, and contains generous amounts of minerals, including calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Research indicates that rooibos tea may even contain more polyphenols than green tea. At least eight different polyphenols have been identified in rooibos. Scientists are trying to pinpoint how these antioxidants work in the body, particularly in relation to liver function, blood sugar levels and brain activity. Rooibos tea may very well be the next red-hot winner on the supplement scene.