Paradox 1: Rooibos means “red bush” in Afrikaans. Yet, rooibos does not come from a red bush at all. The bush is green. The leaves of the bush turn reddish-brown only after they are fermented, which is how most rooibos leaves are processed for sale as tea.
Paradox 2: Although this dark reddish-brown tea looks as if it must contain caffeine, it is miraculously caffeine free and, healthier still, is chock full of antioxidants. This makes rooibos the ideal beverage for kicking your caffeine habit. (If you want the habit to be kicked, that is. I like mine very much, thank you.)
Paradox 3: Rooibos is not a tea at all. Technically, it is an herb. (It is also a member of the Cape floral kingdom, which is located in southwestern
Paradox 4: Rooibos was first drunk in tea form thousands of years ago by the Khoisan people, the original inhabitants of large swaths of southern
I enjoy rooibos’ mellow, slightly-sweet, slightly-nutty flavor in a simple cup of hot tea or glass of iced tea. Or, twist my arm, on a sunny afternoon I like rooibos in this refreshing, non-cloying version of sangria. Tea? Sangria? No paradox there.
Adapted from Food and Home Entertaining, June 2004
Makes about 8 cups
2 cups water
4 teaspoons rooibos tea leaves
½ cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cups red wine
½ cup brandy
2 cups apple juice
1 orange, sliced
1 apple, sliced
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the tea leaves, sugar and cinnamon sticks, and give the pot a stir. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture to remove the tea leaves and cinnamon sticks. (It’s okay if a few tea leaves slip through). Put the liquid in the refrigerator, and chill. This will take about an hour or so.
Add the red wine, brandy, apple juice, orange slices and apple slices. Stir. Serve with ice cubes.