We have heard about the benefits of green tea, and we know Mzansi loves its rooibos – but which is best for your health? General opinions might differ, but a health expert sheds some light on both.
For Reitz farmer Karabo Mahlaba (26) it’s a no-brainer. The Free State-born cattle farmer believes that rooibos is healthier as it helps him deal with and treat digestive issues.
“I prefer rooibos. It is my remedy for heartburn, though some people prefer milk for that. I have found rooibos to be helpful and beneficial to my health. It also helps improve the quality of my sleep,” says Mahlaba.
For thousands of years green tea has been consumed in Asia as a traditional medicine and soothing beverage, while in Mzansi the rooibos bush has an illustrious history and is loved for its robust flavour and health benefits.
Keeping it caffeine-free
For Koketso Dinoko (37) from Tlakgameng Village in Ganyesa, North West, both green tea and rooibos are great additions to her daily routine. The beauty expert says she prefers hot beverages that are lower in caffeine and would pick both rooibos and green tea over coffee or Ceylon tea.
Podcast producer Kyran Blaauw (26) from De Aar in the Northern Cape says he would choose the locally grown option over green tea any day.
“I am an absolute tea lover. If I had to choose one over the other, I’d have to say rooibos, simply because it has lower caffeine,” he says.
“Caffeine makes me feel weird, so tea is the next best thing. I have a racing mind, so rooibos and chamomile tea somehow eases me. I’d drink green tea when I’ve overindulged in sweet treats, and occasionally to detox.”
Which is best for your health?
The answer is both, says Chanelle Retief, a registered dietitian based in Kempton Park and spokesperson for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA).
Retief explains that rooibos tea and green tea are high in anti-oxidants which can help with better glycaemic control, bone health, liver health, cognitive and respiratory health.
“[Green tea and rooibos are] High in polyphenols and flavanols which help manage blood pressure levels and keep your blood vessels healthy and flexible, promoting good circulation. It is important to note that green tea does contain caffeine, but rooibos is naturally caffeine free,” she says.
Retief also says rooibos tea can do wonders for bloating and insomnia. “This is for the simple reason that rooibos is caffeine free.”
While many rave about the weight loss properties of green tea, it is important to understand that it is not a magic bullet when it comes to burning fat. Retief says green tea does have some possible health benefits, but it will not change your life if you are drinking it to lose weight and not make any other lifestyle changes.
She also tells Health For Mzansi that there are some studies showing the “fat-burning effect” of green tea, but it is really hard to prove whether the decrease in body fat is just because the individual was also exercising more or perhaps eating less.
‘Teatoxing’ is bad
Bathong, social media has recently been in a frenzy over “teatoxing”. Retief explains that “teatoxing” is a form of a detox cleanse that involves drinking teas that are infused with diuretics, laxatives and stimulants like caffeine which promise to reduce bloating, boost energy, strengthen our immune systems, and ultimately speed up weight loss.
“Unfortunately, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is,” Retief cautions.
“You do not need to detox your body using a laxative-containing tea – you will end up doing more damage than good. Rather follow a healthy, balanced diet, drink enough clean and safe water and exercise regularly.”