Herbal infusions or tisanes, like Rooibos, are creating a stir amongst youngsters in the growing demand for healthier beverage alternatives. This is also true for health-conscious parents who, due to the high levels of natural sugar in fruit juices are opting for herbal teas and tisanes. Both parents and manufacturers experimented with fruit juices diluted with water, but lack of taste and fewer nutrients have led to an increased demand for healthy, tasty alternatives.
Nicie Vorster, a director of the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) says tisanes aren’t just for grown-ups anymore as instant and ready-to-drink tisanes are paving the way for strong positioning among families, children and teens.
Analysts predict tisanes to show the second highest growth of all tea categories with an annual growth rate of 12,7% in the 2022 to 2026 forecast period. 2021 records South Africans consuming more than 70 million cups of herbal tea, a 5,7% increase from 2020 with no signs of decline.
More balanced beverage options for kids also become critical as we see a combined overweight and obesity prevalence in of 13.5% in children aged 6-14 years, which is higher than the 10% prevalence among schoolchildren globally (SA National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-1)). In addition to obesity, frequent consumption of fizzy- and sports drinks, increases children’s risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and tooth decay.
Herbal infusions or tisanes offer multiple health benefits, are low in sugar, antioxidant-rich and both calorie- and caffeine-free. Kids with a sweeter taste profile can simply add natural fruit juice to Rooibos or experiment by using Rooibos as base and adding natural sweeteners, fruit, herbs and spices to satisfy their thirst.
According to Vorster (SARC) the use of functional ingredients (food that offer health benefits beyond their nutritional value) will be the key to kickstarting innovation in the kids’ segment.
Scientists consider Rooibos to be a good source of polyphenols that boast a wide range of health benefits, because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Polyphenols represent a superfamily of diverse compounds found in plants – from root to fruit. Rooibos is particularly rich in these compounds.
Drinking Rooibos daily has been proven to boost immunity, reduce the risk of heart disease and cholesterol and it can help fight inflammation, which is the root cause of cancer. Rooibos is also effective at controlling blood glucose, relieving stress and anxiety, soothing allergies and digestion, and is good for the brain.
Kids can enjoy Rooibos on its own; mixed with fruit juice (two parts juice with one part Rooibos) or in any number of flavour combinations, such as Rooibos and strawberry-, apple-, blackcurrant- etc, or Rooibos blended with other herbal infusions/ingredients, like calming chamomile. Rooibos is naturally sweet, so additional sweetening is rarely needed. For time-pressed parents, there are even cold brew Rooibos blends which, added to a bottle of water make for an ideal refreshment at break time or after school.