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Favorite Rooibos?

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I was recently introduced to this African tea, and really enjoy it as an alternative to my usual lineup. In addition to having a unique flavor and beautiful deep red color, rooibos is supposed to be high in antioxidants and have all kinds of health benefits.

To me, the flavor is like a cross between a black tea and hibiscus tisane (unsweetened jamaica, for those who like Mexican drinks).

Do people have a favorite brand of rooibos? I haven't looked for it in a supermarket, but assume it's available at higher end markets and specialty food shops.

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  1. I like Adagio's brand (available online). It's very finely cut, and they offer it unflavored plus several different flavors (eg, rooibos with apricot).

    1. I've tried a lot of blends, but my favorite is still the Freshpak brand, which is one of the main brands of rooibos sold in South Africa. I haven't seen it in any of my local stores, but have ordered it in the past from shops that specialize in S. African products.

      The Republic of Tea sells 5 different rooibos teas; most are blended with herbs and are pretty good (the one with vanilla is my favorite).

      Trader Joe's also sells an Orange Spice Rooibos tea, blended with orange peel, cinnamon, chicory, anise, and cloves. It's tasty & less expensive than Republic of Tea, but is only sold at Trader Joe's.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Alison B.

        My husband likes Trader Joe's the best, and I've bought him about 8 different brands of it - all more expensive than TJ's. (Personally, I hate the stuff - even the grass in my backyard tastes better than that!)

        1. re: Alison B.

          I also enjoy the Orange Spice Rooibus from TJ's! Another favorite is Celestial Seasonings, Madagascar Vanilla Red Rooibus.

        2. I've only tried it from tealuxe, but it's my favorite herbal.

          Link: http://www.tealuxe.com/index.html

          1. Went to Whole Foods after reading the replies here, and I was surprised to see that almost every large commercial tea company had at least one rooibos blend.

            I ended up getting the Republic of Tea vanilla blend. It was the only one recommended here that I could find. Some of the ones found more often in South Africa never made it to the San Francisco Whole Foods (unsurprisingly).

            Compared to other versions I've had (once at a tea shop, another that my friend's cousin brought over from Holland), this one tastes too much like black tea. It smells wonderfully vanilla-y, but if I wanted that I'd just drink a vanilla black tea. It's a nice non-caffeinated substitute for other teas but doesn't taste unique.

            I'm going to have to continue my hunt for my personal favorite rooibos.

            2 Replies
            1. re: nooodles

              I have a friend that is really into tea. Blends her own stuff, gets looseleaf in bulk to play with, takes classes in brewing and holistic stuff. Anyway, she's pretty crazy about tea and might be able to help you find what you're looking for. Check our her blog or email me and I'll send you her email.

              Link: http://teaguru.blogspot.com/

              1. re: krissywats

                Cool! Thanks a bunch. I'll definitely send her an e-mail sometime.

            2. r
              RachelfromAtlanta

              I LOVE Rooibos! Yes, it is very good for you. Is good for everything from depression to fibromyalgia! I bought a blend called Lover's Cup Rooibus and they put lavender in there to relax me and help me sleep. WOW! It tasted as good as it helped.

              Like Green Tea though, the commercial brands use very low quality and it tastes terrible.

              If you don't have a propper tea store in your area, then I really recommend ordering online.

              There are SEVERAL great online retailers (Tealuxe and Adagio are both great)

              5 Replies
              1. re: RachelfromAtlanta

                Before I start clicking away: comparing the price per ounce at Adagio with price per ounce I've paid for, let's say, Republic of Tea, seems to indicate I'd be WAY better off ordering online. Example: 2.3 ouncesof ROT teabags for $9 was what I paid yesterday. That's about 40 teabags, each good for a huge mug but not good for a second brew.

                Adagio's rooibos is $10 for 8 ounces. I have no way of knowing how many cups that is, but it sure sounds like way more than 2.3 ounces.

                As a person who's ordered before, would you say it is a much better deal?

                1. re: nooodles

                  Definitely. The good thing about Adagio is that they sell little 2-ounce samplers, which yield about 10 cups. This way, you can try lots of different things. Also, they sell empty filters (I think $4 for a box of 100), so you can make your own tea bags.

                  1. re: Chorus Girl

                    Thanks for turning me on to Adagio...Love the two ounce samplers, love the packaging...Their Roiboos, tho, is terrible, (imho)...I opened it up, and could barely smell it, compared to a bag of Rishii I have that's 3 or 4 months old...I really wanted to like their's better, but it tasted old and flavorless. I guess I should have been warned, because the customer reviews were barely lukewarm; should've paid attention. i did get a sample of an expensive, yet wonderful green tesa, Moonlight Gyukuro, which i will buy again. In short, I'll buy from them again, but pay more attention to their consumer write-ups...

                    Rishii(bulk bag) is still in the lead of the Roiboos' I've tried...

                    Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com

                2. re: RachelfromAtlanta

                  The rooibos I've had has been good to okay so I think I need to find a superior brand. I'm glad this posting reminded me. I have Alvita bags now, which are drab.

                  Please tell us more about the lavender, Rachel. Is it just dried lavender and you added a bit to the tea? Relaxing would be novel.

                  1. re: RachelfromAtlanta

                    Oops. My mistake. I reread your post and you said "they" put lavender in. I'll have a look for this.

                  2. I love the Yogi Tea rooibos chai blend. I can't remember the name exactly. Comes in a black box - but I've only been able to find it in bags, and I prefer loose.

                    I also bought a bulk bag of plain rooibos - think it is the Rishi brand, or perhaps Rep. of Tea, though I think Rishi. It's quite good and flavorful. Very smoky, and earthy.

                    I made my own red chai last night, and it turned out pretty good, though I think it helped that I simmered the spices in the tea water, instead of just pouring hot water on them. I crushed up about a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and fennel. Then a little bit of black pepper. After simmering about 5-10 minutes, I added a cup or so of soymilk and let it simmer a few more minutes. Made about three cups. I liked it as much as anything I have bought, but of course it took some time.

                    1. I have two favorites because I like it two different ways--in chai (substituting for black tea) and espresso-style. For the chai, Rishi has two blends that I like equally, one is called Rooibos Chai and the other West Cape Chai. For the espresso, try to get hold of red espresso http://www.redespresso.com (although I don't know about its US availability).
                      The chais are available at Whole Foods and Rishi also carries green rooibos ("groenbos," perhaps? "Rooibos" means "red bush" in Afrikaans), but I've never seen it at WF.

                      1. I had a serious Rooibos void for a long time once I moved back from SA in 2004, until I tried MEM tea's versions. Mark Mooradian, the owner/creater, is super passionate about what he does, and you can definitely taste the difference (We order from him religiously for our restaurant). If you live in Massachusetts (Specifically the Boston area), you can find them at shops all over the city (i.e. Formaggio/SEF, Christina's, etc.), but a recent google search showed that you can order online from different places. MEM has three rooibos selection: A Bergamot Rooibos, which is actually an Earl Grey that uses rooibos as a base, a Decorated Rooibos that has orange and vanilla, and a Vanilla Rooibos that has, yep, vanilla (Bourbon vanilla to be exact.) I'm a big, big fan of all their teas--Highly recommended!

                        1. I found this board while doing my own research about the best rooibos teas out there...Believe it or not, so far, I like Twinnings Red Rooibos the best. It has a really clean, deep flavor that is amazing hot and cold. The Republic of Tea stuff is pretty weak and did nothing for me... I also tried the Whole Foods Vanilla Rooibos and ended up returning the box: artificial vanilla flavor was overwhelming and awful. Mighty Leaf's African Nectar is fantastic but is a blend and very pricey! I think I'm going to try the Freshpak and loose stuff from the African hut...will report in after that....

                          Does anyone know what about the plant, harvest, or fermentation process might distinquish the taste of one tea brand from the next?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: hfelsen

                            Whole Foods drastically cut all of their Rishi offerings in favor of their own label; ridiculous for things like tea and botanicals (i.e., herbals and things like rooibos which aren't actually tea) because it takes expertise to source and identify good product.
                            Do you mean actual tea or rooibos? Tea is a whole other world and can't really be compared to rooibos. However, I'd guess that rooibos is available in grades and what you end up with in your cup depends on what your supplier has bought. Personally, I don't like brewing rooibos or anything else in bags, so I buy it loose. Again, I recommend Rishi. I've moved beyond their tea but their botanicals are of very high quality. I recently bought a bag of their Ginger Lime blend but haven't opened it yet. And if deep flavor is important, you can't get richer than redespresso, which is now available on Amazon. You can use the drip method or a French press if you don't have an espresso maker; it'll still be more intense than anything else available.

                            1. re: hfelsen

                              If you like Might Leaf's African Nectar, try Upton Tea's Rooibos Pretoria blend. I find them almost identical, and Upton is MUCH cheaper, although only available online.

                            2. Tazo makes a lovely Rooibos in loose leaves & concentrate as well as a loose leaf Honeybush tea. Wegman's, Whole Foods & Starbucks all carry it. Tazo's Vanilla Rooibos concentrate is also lovely in baking recipes.

                              I also purchase loose tea thru World Spice Merchants in Seattle and their Rooibos is really good.

                              1. I love Rooibos. I make a cold drink that's half Cranberry juice, half cold Rooibos. It's delicious. Try it!

                                1. I confess that I buy mainly tea bags. It's more practical for me and quicker to make, especially at my office. I like the rooibos tea that Celestial Seasonings makes. It has a beautiful red color and a strong taste.

                                  1. I don't know if it's available in the US, but my favourite is Tick Tock tea, it's got a very clear, pure rooibos flavour. The people who make it also make Dragonfly tea, and they do some lovely variations - I really like the rooibos Earl Grey and the rooibos and vanilla (http://www.dragonfly-teas.com/Rooibos...). For me, the simpler the better, so I tend to avoid chai/berry flavours, but the addition of a little citrus or vanilla really complements the flavour.