Firstly it has to be stated that Red Tea made from the Rooibos Plant is not classed as "tea" made from the tea plant Camellia Sinensis. This beverage is also sometimes called rooibos, a reference to the parent plant. In Afrikaans, the hybrid Dutch language spoken in South Africa, “rooibos” means “red bush.” Native Africans have been using the leaves of this bush to prepare tisanes for centuries, and when European explorers were introduced to red tea, they acquired a taste for it. While the common name of “red tea” is technically incorrect, it has become so pervasive that it is generally considered acceptable, except by tea purists.
The rooibos plant only grows in a small region of South Africa. In the summer, the leaves are harvested, lightly bruised, and allowed to oxidize, which turns them red. After a period of oxidation, the tea is dried and packaged for sale. It is also possible to find green rooibos, made from fresh leaves which are immediately dried without oxidation. In South Africa, red tea is a readily available and very popular drink. The flavour is mild and earthy, with faint mineral tones and a natural sweetness. Red tea has no tannins or caffeine, so it is safe for people on restricted diets and individuals with health concerns. When steeped, the tea acquires a rich red colour, and it can enjoyed plain or lightly sweetened and dressed with milk. Some people enjoy red tea iced as well, and it is often offered as a thirst quenching drink in hot weather.