Stay cool with rooibos this summer

Rooibos Council

Try out these cool recipes.

Most of us start summer immediately regretting an indulgent winter of good food and lapsed gym memberships as we try to squeeze into last year’s boardshorts or bikini.

Inevitably we deal with it by coughing up the penalty fee to re-join the gym, resolve to drink six glasses of water a day and cut out just about everything we enjoy eating.

The bad news is that there’s no substitute for exercise – you have to sweat to get into shape. But there’s good news too – healthy eating doesn’t mean flavourless food or expensive supplements.

“What so many people overlook is that instead resorting to a diet of dry crackers and lugging a bottle of mineral water everywhere or trying imported, often unproven diet supplements, in South Africa we’re lucky to have some amazingly beneficial, affordable and tasty options readily available,” says Professor Jeanine Marnewick of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Rooibos is a case in point. Research has proved that it can help prevent heart disease and cancer, protect the liver, boost the immune system, relieve allergies and treat digestive disorders.

Add to this the fact that it contains no fats or carbohydrates, can be consumed as a hot or cold drink and is a flavour enhancer that can be used in anything from roasts to desserts.

Incredibly, despite South Africa being the only place in the world where it grows, nearly half of what is produced is exported.

Part of the reason may be that many South Africans tend to think of rooibos only as a hot cup of tea, while consumers in other markets drink unfermented rooibos as green tea, use it to make iced teas or even cocktails.

The long and the short of it is that rooibos is incredibly versatile. So next time you need to rehydrate after a gym session, are planning a day on the beach, entertaining or looking for something healthy for the kids to drink, try one of these rooibos iced teas.

Easy rooibos iced tea

Rooibos is a natural thirst quencher and drinking up to six cups a day – hot or cold – will provide a sustained health benefit. Making a simple rooibos iced tea is straightforward. You can then elaborate, adding spices, fruit and fruit juices or combinations depending on your taste.

  • Make one litre of rooibos tea (four to six teabags)
  • Sweeten with honey, stirring until dissolved
  • Leave in the fridge overnight
  • Serve as is, with mint, lemon, orange or with your favourite fruit juice. Rooibos carries flavours well, which is why it is a popular ingredient in commercially manufactured iced teas.

Tip: Cold rooibos can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Rose petal rooibos iced tea

If you’re looking for something a little more sophisticated to impress special guests, this is ideal.

For the syrup you’ll need:

  • Four red organic roses, with the stems and leaves removed
  • 250ml of water
  • 180ml of honey
  • 15ml of rose water

Heat the rose buds and water in a large pot. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat and allow the buds to infuse for five minutes. Add the honey, allow to cool, then add the rose water.

For the tea:

  • Rose petals
  • Water
  • 750ml rooibos tea made with four tea bags and cooled
  • 500ml of mixed berry, strawberry or cranberry juice

Place a rose petal per hole in an ice-cube tray, fill with water and freeze.

To serve pour the rose syrup into a large jug, add the cooled tea and top up with the juice. Stir and add the ice cubes just before serving.

You can also adapt the recipe to make a similar drink for children. Simply mix 180ml of honey with 750ml of cooled rooibos and add 500ml of strawberry juice. Slice fresh strawberries into ice-cube trays, top up with water and freeze. Pour the iced tea into glasses and top up with strawberry cubes.

Herby rooibos iced tea

This ultimate natural refresher combines green or unfermented rooibos with citrus and herbs.

You’ll need:

  • A litre of green rooibos tea made with six or seven tea bags
  • 125ml of honey
  • 250ml of orange juice
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 5ml cardamom pods
  • 1 piece of cassia
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of mint
  • 10ml grated lemon rind

To serve you’ll need some chunky pieces of pineapple, strips of orange rind and sparkling water.

To make the tea, place all the ingredients in a large pot and bring it to the boil. Lower the heat and allow to it simmer for 10 minutes. Cool and then refrigerate until cold. Strain and pour into glasses.

Add mineral water to taste, thread the pineapple and orange rind onto skewers and pop these into the glasses.

Mango and granadilla rooibos iced tea

If you’re into big taste sensations, then this is the iced tea for you.

You’ll need:

  • A litre of cold, strong rooibos tea, made with eight tea bags
  • 500ml mango juice or one mashed mango
  • A tin of granadilla pulp
  • Honey to taste

Simply put all the ingredients into a glass jug and refrigerate until ice cold. If you want to add a touch more flavour, spoon a teaspoon of granadilla pulp per hole into an ice cube tray and top it up with water. Freeze the granadilla ice cubes and add them to the iced tea just before serving.

Ginger rooibos iced tea spritzer

This is little more subtle and exotic but just a refreshing.

You’ll need:

  • A litre of cooled, strong rooibos tea made with between four and six tea bags
  • 5cm of fresh ginger root, grated
  • 2 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 4 pieces of lemon grass, bruised
  • 160ml of honey
  • 50ml of lemon juice
  • 500ml apple juice

Place the tea, ginger root, cardamom, lemon grass and honey in a large pot and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for three minutes. Cool and strain. Add the lemon and apple juice and refrigerate until ice cold.

To serve pour the tea into a jug and add the mineral water to taste. Place half a stalk of lemon grass in a glass, add a few slices of thinly sliced apple and fill with iced tea.

Citrus rooibos iced tea

This iced tea combines the goodness of rooibos and citrus fruit to make a delicious, healthy thirst quencher.

For the tea you’ll need:

  • A litre of rooibos tea made with four to six tea bags
  • Two vanilla pods split in half, or 15ml – 30ml of vanilla syrup
  • Honey to taste and
  • 500ml orange juice

To serve you’ll need:

  • One or two oranges, peeled and segmented
  • A grapefruit, peeled and segmented
  • One or two limes, peeled and segmented
  • Vanilla pods and/ or slices of lime

Place the rooibos tea, vanilla pods and honey in a large pot. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for five minutes. Allow to cool, pour into a jug, add the orange juice and refrigerate until ice cold.

Add the fruit just before serving. Serve with a slice of lime and vanilla pod in each glass.

- (SA Rooibos Council press release)

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