Slate's article points out that as with many newly popular health foods, many of rooibos' oft-touted health benefits are overblown. But the herbal tea grown in South Africa is rich in antioxidants and rich in nutty flavor too -- making it one of my favorite coffee substitutes. And thanks to rooibos' growing popularity, I got a bunch of organic rooibos samples to taste and compare. Here's how four different rooibos stacked up:
Choice Organic Teas Rooibos Superfruit
Cost: 1 box of 16 tea bags costs $4.99 Want a citrus kick in your rooibos tea? Choice gives you just that choice, since this tea comes infused with orange and orange oil -- as well as organic apple, hibiscus, rosehips, and schizandra berry. Plus, as a benefit to tea-drinking do-gooder types, this tea's fair trade certified and also supports the Jane Goodall Institute. Unfortunately, I wasn't actually a fan of the tea. The fruity flavors were barely noticeable -- but made the tea less rich and slightly sour, making this my least favorite rooibos tea of the bunch.
Equal Exchange Organic Rooibos Tea
Cost: 1 box of 20 tea bags costs $4.50 For a pure, plain, rooibos tea that's affordable too, go for Equal Exchange. This rooibos tea brews up clean and crisp and has a deliciously rich red color. Plus, this fair trade tea is grown by small-scale farmers that form the democratically-organized Wupperthahal Origiinal Rooibos Cooperative.
Equal Exchange Organic Vanilla Rooibos Tea
Cost: 1 box of 20 tea bags costs $4.50 This tea's just like the one above -- except with an extra dose of vanilla. Vanilla lovers will love how the sweet, mellow flavor of vanilla complements the nuttiness of the rooibos in this concoction. Equal Exchange says "It's almost like dessert in a cup." That description's really pushing it; rooibos tea just isn't that sweet. Still, the tea could be a nice complement to whatever dessert you're eating.
The Tea Spot Organic Red Rooibos
Cost: Sample pack that makes 5 cups costs $4 (1/4 pound bag costs $11) Hands down, this rooibos tea won the taste test -- which isn't a surprise, since this is a higher quality loose leaf tea, while all others are more affordable paper-bagged teas. This loose leaf tea will give you a richer, fuller, earthier flavor -- and leave you with a pleasant nutty aftertaste.
What's your favorite rooibos tea?
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