Does Rooibos Tea Contain Tannins? And Why It Matters.

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Bitterness in tea is one of the biggest obstacles that a new tea drinker faces when they are just dabbling in the beginning. That bitterness is due in large part to the tannin content of the tea.

But all teas and herbal infusions are not created equal in terms of tannins. Today we are going to focus on Rooibos tea and its tannin content.

Rooibos Tea is a herbal infusion and not a true tea, like black tea. It contains 4.4% tannins, which are reduced because it’s not from the Camellia Sinensis plant but instead Aspalathus linearis – differences in tannin levels can be attributed to this as well as other factors, like oxidation, that make Rooibos an even more unique beverage choice than its cousin black tea.

If you are just interested in a great cup of rooibos tea to try then I would suggest Buddha Teas Organic Rooibos Red Teabags. Convenient and a great example of this wonderful herbal infusion.

So Let’s dive in and see how tannins affect this herbal tea and how it stacks up to some other popular teas to get a better picture of the overall tannin content for Rooibos tea.

rooibos tea on white table

What Is Rooibos Tea?

Before we dive into the tannin content I just wanted to do a little refresher on what Rooibos tea is so we have a basic understanding of the type of herbal infusion we are talking about. Rooibos tea is also commonly called red tea or red bush tea.

Rooibos tea is a type of herbal tea made from the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant. The plants are found in many African countries but are most well known for being grown in South Africa.

Rooibos is caffeine-free and has been shown to be rich in antioxidants, anti-aging properties, minerals, and polyphenols which provide health benefits such as weight loss and improved cholesterol levels.

Rooibos Tannin Content Compared To Other Teas

Rooibos “Red” Tea originates with South African red bush plants called “Aspalathus Linearis” rather than coming from black or green-tea varieties that have much higher tannin counts.

As a general rule, the more oxidized the tea is the higher concentration of tannins it is going to have.

Black tea, with the highest tannin concentration, ranges from 11% to 15% percent while green tea falls in at around 3%, making it the lowest of these 3 true teas. Oolong is right where you would expect it to be, directly in between black and green teas with about an 8% tannin count(source).

For a much more in-depth look at the tannin content in teas you can check out this research article, it is a scientific read so it might be a little dry but a lot of the information is very interesting and should be a great place to learn more.

With this data, we can see that rooibos tea is lower than most true teas but might be a little higher than some types of green tea since it is the least oxidized of the true teas.

What Are Tannins Anyway?

Tannins are a naturally occurring compound found in many plant foods, including “true” teas like black or green tea.

One of the reasons that Black Tea is so rich in tannin and has double the concentration as Oolong is because it comes from Camellia Sinensis plants which have been selected and cultivated specifically for their high content of this compound.

Rooibos Tea is one of the most popular types of tea in South Africa. This type of herbal drink has a low tannin content. The confusion arises because it’s called “tea” but actually an herbal beverage with low levels of tannins.

Rooibos is Less Bitter Than Some True Teas

Because of its low tannin count rooibos tends to have a far less bitter taste than many true teas especially black tea and all its variations.

Rooibos tea also has a natural sweetness to it that helps to smooth out any lingering bitterness. You can check out our full rooibos tea flavor profile here to get a more complete idea of what this herbal tea tastes like.

One thing to keep in mind is that over-steeping your rooibos tea will turn it astringent. It is not as susceptible to this as a lighter green tea or a white tea but it is something you need to watch for when you steep this herbal tea.

The lower tannin count in rooibos tea makes over steeping much more difficult. Green tea is particularly susceptible to over steeping and even burning your tea if the water is too hot and you steep for too long.

In some cases, a delicate green tea can turn very astringent after only a minute or so steep. Fortunately, rooibos tea is much more hardy, like many other herbal teas, and not as readily ruined by a long steep time.

You can steep rooibos tea for a solid 5 minutes or more and not draw out the bitter and astringent flavor that is the bane of many a tea drinker.

Tannins Also Stain Your Teeth

Both coffee and tea are notorious for staining your teeth if you are a frequent drinker of them. Tannins are the main culprit for this teeth staining. The higher the tannins the more you are going to have to deal with teeth staining as part of your everyday life.

Lower tannin tea like Rooibos and green tea don’t have nearly the same impact on the color of your teeth and black tea or coffee frequently does.

One other thing I want to add is that Rooibos Tea is generally less acidic than other types of tea This also helps to lower the level of staining on your teeth over time.

Wrapping Up Tannins And Red Tea

The tannin content for rooibos tea is pretty low when compared to other true tea. It is a great caffeine-free alternative that has a nice slightly sweet flavor and is easy to make.

A properly steeped cup of green tea is still going to be a little less astringent due to the lower tannins but Rooibos is a nice change of pace from time to time.

It all comes down to how much you enjoy the flavor of red bush tea and whether you want to make it a part of your overall tea drinking routine.

Thanks for visiting and have a wonderful day.