Drinking a stimulating cup of coffee in the morning is a popular way to start the day. Unfortunately, the caffeine in the coffee can lead to such things as insomnia, fatigue, nervousness, and irritability. So, if you would like to sleep better and feel better, maybe it would be a good idea to drink something else for awhile to see what happens.
The problem is it can be very difficult to find a good coffee substitute. Herbal teas are great, but many coffee drinkers dismiss them as pale and weak. However, there are some herbal teas that are dark and strong.
Rooibos Tea is a Good Coffee Substitute
One herbal tea that satisfies many people who want a coffee substitute is rooibos leaf tea (pronounced “roy-bus”). It is a dark, mahogany red color, and it has a good, strong flavor. Technically, it is not a tea, but rather the oxidized leaves of the flowering rooibos shrub (a member of the legume family).
The rooibos plant grows in the Cederberg Mountains in the Western Cape province of South Africa, and nowhere else in the world (because it needs a very specific climate and soil). Rooibos is the Afrikaans word for “red bush.” The scientific name of the plant is “aspalathus linearis.” Rooibos bushes stand about 3 to 6 feet high and have green needle-like leaves and small yellow flowers.
When the leaves are harvested, they are cut and ground into small pieces, sprayed with water, and then left to dry in the sun. During the process, the green leaves turn reddish brown, which gives the tea its color.
Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea
Naturally caffeine-free rooibos tea (also known as “red tea” or “red bush tea”) is loaded with protective antioxidants. These antioxidants suggest that the tea may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Furthermore, the rooibos plant is the only known natural source of one of the antioxidants – a flavonoid called aspalathin.
Among other things, aspalathin reduces the body’s output of adrenal hormones, thereby reducing stress. Additionally, since studies have shown that aspalathin is very powerful, it is being researched as a cancer preventative and as an agent to stop tumors from spreading.
Rooibos tea is believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-spasmodic, and immune-modulating properties. Traditionally, it has been used to treat digestive problems, allergies, asthma, infant colic, headaches, dermatological problems, and nervous tension.
The tea is a good choice for those trying to avoid tannins because it has about 1/10th the tannin level of other teas. For those who are susceptible to kidney stones and need a beverage they can drink to help prevent their formation, rooibos tea is one of the best as it doesn’t contain any oxalic acid.
Enjoy the Rich Flavor and Fine Aroma of Rooibos Tea
Visit your local health food store or buy online, and then curl up with a nice, hot cup of this rich, mellow tea. Also, be sure to ask for it the next time you drop by your favorite coffee shop, where they may tell you they have it already. You will find rooibos tea to be a little sweet, fruity, and nutty. Plus, it has a pleasant aroma that includes a slight whiff of good, high-quality pipe tobacco. The drink also tastes great (and looks great) as an iced tea.
But first, as with consuming any herbal product and making any changes in your diet, be sure to consult with your health care provider. Rooibos tea may interact with certain types of chemotherapy drugs. Another concern is that some compounds in the rooibos plant are known to have estrogenic activity, so use this tea cautiously if you have a hormone-sensitive cancer (such as breast, ovary, uterus, or prostate).
Transition to a Caffeine-Free Coffee Substitute Slowly
By the way, don’t stop drinking coffee all at once. Instead, reduce your caffeine intake slowly. If you currently drink 3 cups of coffee a day, cut down to 2½ cups per day for one week; then 2 cups for one week; then 1½ cups; 1 cup; and finally ½ cup for the last week. Also, don’t forget that cola drinks, energy drinks, chocolate, and some over-the-counter drugs contain caffeine, too, so be sure to read labels.