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A few years back I had never heard of Rooibos tea (or Redbush as it is also know). The first time I tried Rooibos tea was at my parent’s house and I was not massively impressed with it. It was different to the black tea I had become accustomed to drinking all of my life and it just tasted ‘strange’.
I persevered and tried Rooibos a couple more times and to my surprise began to enjoy the drink. Today I can honestly say that I am so glad that I did not give up on this tea and I drink it by the ‘bucket full’ now. Actually, at this very moment in time I am writing this review whilst sipping from my pint sized mug of Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla tea. Nowadays I would not be without this tea and I even take it abroad with me when I go on holiday.
What is Rooibos?
Rooibos is a South African red coloured tea (actually it technically is not a tea – it’s a sweet tasting herb). It is sweeter than black tea and is naturally caffeine free. The practice of making tea from Rooibos can be traced back 300 years or so. Therefore I am surprised that I had never even heard of it up until a few years ago. I do think knowledge of this tea has grown in this country, as most supermarkets stock it and occasionally I have noticed a television advertisement for Rooibos.
In addition to being caffeine free, Rooibos also contains less tannin than black tea. I have read that tannins can cause staining of the teeth; therefore it is beneficial that Rooibos contains less tannin than black tea. Also tannins can prevent the absorption of iron.
Rooibos is considered a healthy drink as it contains minerals such as potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and sodium and it is also high in antioxidants. According to the Redbush Tea Company, Rooibos tea is as hydrating as water, which is great news for people who hate drinking water.
There is more to this tea than meets the eye; it is believed that it has many health benefits which (it is claimed) includes:
- Can help build strong teeth and bones (due to calcium, manganese and fluoride content). - Can help infants with colic (and has been used by South Africans for this purpose for years). - Due to the high antioxidant content it boosts the body’s natural defences, could possibly slow the ageing process, lowers the risk of heart disease and prevents cancer. - Aids in liver tissue generation. - Can help with allergies / asthma. - Can help with acne (anti-inflammatory and antioxidants). - Relieves insomnia (probably partly due to the fact that it contains no caffeine). - Relieves anxiety / depression. - Helps relieve constipation.
I cannot really comment on most of these claims, although there have been some studies to show that Rooibos has these health benefits. I think that it is very possible that Rooibos tea has all of the above benefits and perhaps more, but I think that people should be cautious in regards to believing everything that has been supposedly ‘discovered’ in research. I can however discuss the positive impact that Rooibos has had on me.
After I drink Rooibos I feel relaxed and it definitely aids sleep for me. I have noticed that if I drink black tea in the evening rather than Rooibos I have trouble getting to sleep. Additionally I have noticed that if I drink a lot of Rooibos in the day I feel more relaxed and it can make me quite sleepy. Rooibos tea also hydrates me and quenches my thirst. Even if drinking Rooibos does not have any other beneficial impact on my health then I would still continue to drink it as I find it very soothing and relaxing and most importantly tasty.
Rooibos does come in different varieties and there are a number of different brands available. Therefore there is a bit of choice when it comes to Rooibos. You can purchase Rooibos flavoured with caramel, chocolate orange, ginger, lemon spice, Earl Grey and vanilla amongst others. I will concentrate on the Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla tea for the purposes of this review.
I have discussed the benefits of Rooibos tea above, and these benefits also apply to this brand and flavour of Rooibos tea. Rooibos tea does have a sweeter taste in comparison to other teas I have tried but if you want an extra bit of sweetness and smoothness then I would recommend this particular Rooibos tea. It is a little more difficult to find this particular brand and flavour of Rooibos tea but it is available in most supermarkets (however my local Asda stopped stocking it about 8 months or so ago). I have been able to find it at my local farm shop and also in Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
This brand of vanilla Rooibos is in my opinion better than Tetley Vanilla Rooibos tea. I really like the Tetley one but it tastes a bit sweeter and it is perhaps a little more synthetic tasting than the Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla. It is also a good choice for when you fancy something sweet but do not want the extra calories of a cake or a piece of chocolate. I often have Vanilla Rooibos after dinner rather than plain Rooibos as in a way it satisfies my craving for a pudding.
Price and packaging
Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla comes in a classy looking white square shaped box with a big picture of a clear glass cup and saucer filled with red liquid. It is a very simplistic image that I think it quite eye-catching and I can easily find this tea on the supermarket shelf. The name and brand of the tea is written on the top right hand corner of the box in black and yellow text, and there is a yellow dragonfly to the right of the text. The other flavours of Rooibos that Dragon Fly produces can be identified by different colour text e.g. the Earl Grey has black and blue writing and the Rooibos Breakfast tea has black and red writing. I like the simple and clear design on the box. The box is covered in clear cellophane to lock in freshness and it contains 40 tea bags.
Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla is more pricey that the Tetley Vanilla Rooibos and plain Rooibos tea, however I think that it is worth the extra money. Currently on the website www.mysupermarket.co.uk the price in Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Ocado is £2.29 per box (containing 40 tea bags). In comparison a box of plain Tetley Rooibos (40 tea bags) costs £1.69 in Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Ocado and only £1 in Asda. Tetley Rooibos Vanilla (40 bags) is only £1 in Asda. Therefore Dragonfly Vanilla Rooibos is quite a bit pricier. However sometimes you have to pay a little more to get a nicer product and in my opinion Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla is a superior tea.
Smell and Taste
Plain Rooibos has in my opinion a very distinctive smell, which could perhaps be described as a bit like tobacco and it is quite a strong smell. In contrast the Dragonfly Vanilla Rooibos has an immensely sweet smell which is evident upon opening the box. It smells a bit like honey mixed with vanilla to me. The smell is definitely appealing and is much nicer than the smell of plain Rooibos.
Plain Rooibos has a slightly nutty flavour but has a slight sweetness to it in comparison to black tea. It does not have a bitter aftertaste. Dragonfly Vanilla Rooibos is slightly smoother and is definitely sweeter than plain Rooibos. It also has a nice hint of natural vanilla to it which makes it a very pleasant taste indeed. I would describe the tea as quite delicate tasting and not at all sickly. It is a nice alternative to plain Rooibos and I would encourage people to try this tea even if they do not like plain Rooibos.
How to make this tea
You can make this tea with or without milk and you can drink it hot or chilled. Additionally you can add sugar to it or honey (for extra sweetness). I always drink it with a dash of milk. I am lazy so I do not tend to use a teapot. So if you are like me and make your tea straight in your mug then you will find that you will need to leave this tea for longer than black tea before adding the milk (unless you like it really tasteless and milky). I poor boiling water onto the tea bag and leave for 3-4 minutes before adding a small dash of milk. This results in a tea with a nice reddish colour and means that you can really taste the rooibos and vanilla. If you like to use a teapot I would imagine that 3-4 minutes would also be sufficient with this method.
Personally I would not drink this tea without milk because I do not like the taste very much without the milk. I also would not drink it iced or with honey or sugar added as I think the vanilla adds enough sweetness for my taste. I have however in the past added a teaspoon of honey to plain rooibos tea when I have run out of vanilla rooibos.
This tea only has three ingredients: premium grade rooibos tea, real Bourbon vanilla, natural vanilla flavour.
According to Dragonfly, this tea contains no calories. Therefore I can imagine this tea being ideal for dieters who are craving sweet things.
Who can drink this tea?
This tea is safe for people of all ages, as I know that it is used for infants in South Africa who have colic. This tea can also be consumed by pregnant women as it is caffeine free. In fact a website called ‘Babybellies’ states:
“In South Africa, the drink of choice of expectant mothers is Rooibos tea. This caffeine-free herbal infusion has been shown to soothe the body's reaction to allergens and recent studies have shown that Rooibos tea may also have significant amounts of antioxidants….Also, anaemia is a common problem during pregnancy or breastfeeding and unfortunately, many teas prevent your body from absorbing iron due to an ingredient called tannin. Rooibos teas contain low levels of tannins, so they are less likely to interfere with iron absorption.”
However as with anything I guess it is possible that it might cause problems for some people, although I think that it is probably unlikely. I often drink the equivalent of around 6-8 cups of Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla per day and have never had any negative side effects apart from feeling sleepy!
Although Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla is more expensive than plain Rooibos and Tetley’s Vanilla Rooibos, I think it is well worth the extra money. It is naturally sweet in taste and does not taste artificial or sickly. In comparison with plain Rooibos it has the added benefit of extra sweetness and smoothness and it is simply a delicate and soothing drink. In addition to this, Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla has the same health benefits as plain Rooibos and is a healthy refreshing drink.
I do not quite know how I spent so many years without having heard of Rooibos, but I am so glad that I tried it and I am even happier that I managed to discover this lovely Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla. I hope to try some more Rooibos flavours in the near future and am particularly keen on trying the Caramel flavour (not a Dragonfly product but is available on Amazon). For the time being though I will continue to drink my Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla throughout the day up until evening to ensure that I quench my sweet cravings and have a very restful sleep.
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I have never heard of this tea. I know what you mean when you say that at first you didn't like the taste, but later came to love it. I had the same experience with Earl Grey tea.
I shall definitely look out for this one.