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10 reasons to make rooibos your favourite cooking partner in the kitchen

By Carmen Niehaus

It comes as no surprise that rooibos is seen as a superfood – by now it is well-known for its health benefits due to the abundance of antioxidants. But did you know that rooibos can also be your best companion in the kitchen, as they pair well with almost any type of food (sweet and savoury)? Rooibos gives dishes a warm and earthy tone and caramel flavour which will complement especially sweeter treats, and baked stuff. As it is a base note flavour, the tea enhances an array of flavours from citrus to warm and spicy food and will contribute a depth of flavour to many a dish.

  1. Use rooibos as a marinade for red meat and chicken. If you prepare a marinade with some spice the Revive as well as the Focus will add extra notes of flavour It’s also ideal to prepare a basting sauce with it when braaiing fish. The ginger and chilli in the Revive will add some kick to your basting sauce for fish. Sprinkle some leaves over the coals when braaiing, it will add a subtle smoky flavour to the food.
  2. Use rooibos as a liquid when preparing stews, casseroles and curries. It’s also a natural meat tenderizer, so it’s ideal to add to tougher cuts as it will become tender and more succulent. Focus, and Revive will work especially well with spicy stews and curries.
  3. Cook rice and sweeter vegetables like sweet potato, butternut, pumpkin, peas and carrots in it for extra flavour. Focus will do the job here, but even a bit of Relax with chamomile will add an interesting but mild flavour.
  4. Use it as stock when preparing soup. The Cleanse and Revive will work very well in a soup with Oriental flavours, while the Boost will boost the citrus flavour in a butternut or sweet potato soup. Add a bag or two of Revive as well to up the ginger and chilli flavour.
  5. Makes a salad dressing with rooibos, olive oil, lemon juice and some chopped herbs and garlic. Ideal to add flavour to a basic green salad. My favourite go-to Carmién rooibos tea for use in a salad dressing is the Energise – the forrest berries add a wonderful berry flavour to the dressing that will pair beautifully with a plain green salad. If you prefer, also add some strawberries and nuts to the salad and everybody will rave about it!
  6. Add a strong shot to smoothies to create a powerhouse of goodness. Go with Cleanse, Boost, Energise and Meno (for smoothies with a berry flavour) here. Just by changing the type of rooibos tea you are using, you will create a whole new flavour profile for the smoothies.
  7. It makes beautiful iced tea and is the perfect partner for alcohol and non-alcoholic cocktails. I love something with a berry or citrus flavour when making ice teas, so go for Energise, Meno, Boost, Cleanse, Relax and even Revive for one with a bit of a bite.
  8. Infuse milk with rooibos when creating nostalgic dishes like späztle, milk tart, pancakes or even crème brulèe. Relax is just the one to help you to get into a feeling good mood. The Focus with its chai flavours is ideal to add to spaetzle, milk tarts and pancakes.
  9. Cook a syrup of equal parts sugar and water and add plenty of rooibos tea bags as well as a hint of lemon. Use the concentrate to marble through yoghurt and serve it with fruit for breakfast, spoon it over ice cream and serve with a sprinkling of nuts or use as the syrup over baked puddings. The Boost will add that citrusy flavour to your syrup.
  10. Replace the liquid in a cake recipe (eg milk or water) with rooibos tea – works especially well with chocolate cake, orange and fruit cake. (Cook the fruit for the fruit cake in rooibos). If you have to soften dried fruit eg dates before adding it to the batter, soak it in rooibos first.