What Does Rooibos Tea Taste Like?

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A friend asked me a question the other day about rooibos tea and I had to pause and think about the answer for a minute.  

It was a simple question. And after thinking about it for a minute a very interesting one.

What Does Rooibos Tea Taste Like? The answer was complex.  Just like red tea itself.  The quick answer is red tea has a  slightly nutty, earthy flavor to it. With a very smooth finish and a slight sweetness to it. That’s it without any added sugars or anything, it’s a natural sweetness that gives the tea its unique flavor.

Red tea is one of the more popular herbal infusions making the rounds these days.  It has a host of benefits associated with it, making a great candidate for a healthy beverage that some consider on par with green tea.

If you are only interested in finding a good rooibos tea to try, I recommend Feel Good Organics Rooibos Tea(*affiliate link), available on Amazon.

So Let’s take a look at why this increasingly popular beverage tastes the way it does. And why it can be considered an acquired taste for many people.


what does red tea taste like pinterest image

The Flavor Profile Of Rooibos Tea

The first thing you’re going to notice about red tea is it is not nearly as bitter true teas since it doesn’t come from a tea leaf.  

Instead, red tea comes from the African red bush. This has far fewer tannins then true tea.

It’s these tannins that cause a tea or an infusion to have a bitter aftertaste. However, you can mitigate the bitterness by properly steeping just about any tea, including Red tea.

So even though it has fewer tannins you can keep the bitterness to a bare minimum by steeping your red tea at an appropriate temperature for an appropriate amount of time.

Rooibos Tea is not nearly as delicate as, say, a green tea. So the steep time is much longer and the steep temperature higher than most other teas.

For rooibos tea, you want to steep for about 5 to 6 minutes in water that is just under the boiling point.

This is going to give you a very smooth and very drinkable cup of red tea. with none of the bitterness that you would associate with a cup of tea.

rooibos tea with lemon

Naturally Sweet

Another aspect of red tees flavor is that it’s naturally sweet. That means even without any added sweeteners or sugar or honey or fruit.

It has a slight sweetness to it that makes it that much more drinkable and that much more appealing to people who typically don’t like tea.

The added benefit of this natural sweetness is that you can keep the calories down by not having to add anything to it that might bring those calories up.

Some people simply can’t drink a cup of tea without sugar or cream due to the bitterness and lack of any sweetness.

Red tea solves that problem naturally by having a great smooth slightly sweet taste that makes it appealing to a wide variety of people.

An Earthy, Nutty Flavor

Rooibos tea has a very earthy flavor to it. It’s a bit difficult to describe. It’s not grassy like green tea.  I guess the best way I can describe it is it has a bit of a tobacco flavor.

Almost like putting a good cigar in your mouth.

It’s this cigar flavor that really seems to turn a lot of people off from Red Tea. Even though it’s smooth and slightly sweet the tobacco flavored is just too harsh for a lot of people.

That’s why there are dozens of flavored red teas available. Some of these go a long way to cutting through the nutty and earthy flavors that some people find unappealing in red tea.

A Slightly Fruity Note

The last bit of flavor that I can really detect in a good red tea is it there’s a slightly fruity note to it.  

I would describe it as pretty subtle but when you mix it with the earthy nutty flavors you can definitely tell there’s a distinct bit of fruit in there.

When added to the natural sweetness of the red tea the fruit really bounces out the more earthy tones of the red bush tea.

I think overall all the flavors together really make it a pretty interesting beverage as well as one that’s very good for you.

red tea leaves

Not What You Expect

Here’s the big thing about red tea.  

It simply doesn’t taste like tea. I think it’s a bit off-putting when you first drink it. It’s not really anything like what you would expect it to taste like.

When you look at it has this beautiful red color and you expect it to kind of be very fruity and sweet. And while it’s both of those things I think the earthy tones really come to the front and are the predominant flavor.

To the point where I’ve had people tell me that it’s taste like trying to drink dirt and leaves when they first try Rooibos tea.

Personally, I find that a little bit harsh on the red tea.   But I can definitely see where they’re coming from.

Especially if you’re a tea drinker, because if you know how to make a good cup of tea and you have these expectations of what this particular tea is going to taste like, or this particular herbal infusion is going to taste like.

It doesn’t really live up to those expectations.

And in my opinion, it falls short of something like a great green tea or a great black tea but I had to say it’s still not that bad.

I think it’s an okay drink once in a while and the flavors are alright.

red tea leaves in circular container

The Last Drop

So to wrap it all up, red tea’s flavor can best be described as a very smooth, slightly sweet, earthy, nutty flavor with a touch of fruit.

It’s a Long description I’ll grant you that and that’s about the best that I can describe it.

The earthy flavors, I think, shine through more than anything else but the other flavors and the sweetness are definitely there.

For me, it’s pretty decent for an herbal infusion. But I tend to enjoy a good cup of tea, Real tea more than just about anything else.

So I am probably going to be a little bit harsh on it. That’s not to say that I don’t like herbal infusions.

I certainly do but I just prefer a nice cup of old-fashioned tea a little bit more.


As always have a wonderful day.