The science behind rooibos?


Healthy herbs, rooibos, honeybush, decaf tea, and yerba mate.

The science behind rooibos?

Postby CutieAgouti » Mar 24th, '09, 18:17

Alright, so my first loose leaf was honeybush (technically not a tea but whatever) and I LOVED it. I figured I'd love rooibos too and ordered it. Yuck! Awful! But then I found out the accurate time for steeping and gave it another try. Delicious!

My question: why is it that rooibos tastes better the longer you steep it? I know the flavor comes out and whatnot, but is there a real explanation behind this? I'm curious and I hope this question isn't too silly :roll:
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Postby tjausti » Mar 27th, '09, 10:30

have you ever steeped black tea for only 1 minute..... tastes like crap..... it probably just takes a certain amount of time for the water to extract certain tastes and flavors.

I have not tried rooibos yet but I will keep this in mind if I do not like it.
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Postby CutieAgouti » Mar 27th, '09, 13:30

Can't say that I ever steeped black tea for a minute...maybe I'll have to try and see for myself how bad it can be!

Rooibos is not so good unless steeped long but I always had the notion that since the leaves are smaller shouldn't it be faster for the flavor to be extracted? Less surface area and all. I guess not
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Postby Jasmin » Mar 27th, '09, 13:52

I could be really wrong. But. I think it's because rooibos doesn't have any tanins. That's the stuff that makes 'real' tea, like black tea, bitter if you steep it too long.
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Mar 27th, '09, 14:06

cinni wrote:I could be really wrong. But. I think it's because rooibos doesn't have any tanins. That's the stuff that makes 'real' tea, like black tea, bitter if you steep it too long.


Actually, tea has very few tannins-- it's a common misconception. The bitterness in tea comes from similar compounds called polyphenols. IIRC, tannins are polyphenols but not all polyphenols are tannins. There is also some debate about the nomenclature "tannin", but that is a different issue. I would guess that the word "tannic" was adopted from the wine-tasting lexicon because of a similar kind of bitterness found in the two beverages, but in reality the tannins that are present in wine are essentially absent in tea.

That said, I think you are on the right track. Tea probably has some bitter compounds (presumably polyphenols) that only dissolve in large quantities after the tea has infused past a certain equilibrium point. I would guess that rooibos (and many other herbs) do not have much of these bitter compounds, or their bitter compounds are not soluble in water.
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Postby hooksie » Mar 27th, '09, 21:59

tjausti wrote:have you ever steeped black tea for only 1 minute..... tastes like crap..... it probably just takes a certain amount of time for the water to extract certain tastes and flavors.

I have not tried rooibos yet but I will keep this in mind if I do not like it.


There are ways to make a one minute steep of black tea taste wonderful. Don't discount it just yet. :)
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The science behind rooibos?

Postby Eugene » Apr 3rd, '09, 01:13

I use to boil water properly and then add 1 teaspoon of rooibos to it. Take a teapot and pour out the water, cover it and keep it for 4 to 10 min and enjoy the taste. I use Talbotttea's brand. I just love rooibas tea for it is caffeine free and good for liver diseases, cataract and high blood pressure.
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