Home » What’s the ‘tea’ differences? Tisanes & Tea

What’s the ‘tea’ differences? Tisanes & Tea

The talk about tea is now hotter than the cuppa you’ve brewed itself. As a fast-moving essential product, tea-drinkers around the globe have countless ways about their tea rituals. Many of whom find rooibos a foreign concept with a common question which we hope to answer: what exactly is the difference between black, green, and redbush tea?

To qualify as a tea, the product in your teabags have to be derived from the Camellia sinensis plant grown natively in subtropical climates. Any other shape or form of ‘tea’ drink (being derived or comprised of roots, herbs, petals, leaves, or extracts) are actually herbal beverages, according to Max Falkowits and Melissa Jeanette Markert (Everything You Need to Know About Different Types of Tea, 2023). Teas typically contain less than one third of the caffeine in a cup of coffee, and can be prepared in multiple forms for consumption such as hot, cold, with or without milk, and more. Specifically, black and green tea are prepared in unique ways that differentiate from most teas and herbal rooibos.

Black tea is a result of blackened tea leaves (when prepared, it is actually a rich reddish orange color) that have been oxidized, then treated with fired. This form of tea is typically full-bodied and is flavorful due to its natural withering stages of the leaf, which allows for essential oils to ripen. Green tea is nearly the opposite – to create green tea, your actions need to be quick to avoid ripening as well as oxidation of the tender tea leaves. The delicate preparation is to ensure the bittersweet profiles that occur with green tea do not overripen – in fact, the tender leaves are immediately heated to preserve the green pigment. Both teas contain caffeine and allow for milk, sweeteners, or plain consumption.

Rooibos as a herbal infusion is different. Its flavor profiles are very versatile, as a fermented and unfermented product. Rooibos is actually known as a ‘tisane‘, similar to chamomile or rosehip infusions. The uniqueness thereof is that rooibos receives complex heat treatment to allow for its pigment, but naturally has the following attributes:

  • Rooibos naturally accommodates nearly all flavor profiles (so well, that it has its own flavor wheel! Read more about the flavor wheel of rooibos here)
  • Caffeine- and kilojoule-free
  • Allows for hot, cold, milk, without milk, and additional infused ingredient consumption
  • Non-stimulative for children and toddlers
  • Has a plethora of health benefits which the SA Rooibos Council has identified here

The resourcefulness of rooibos is still untapped within the Food & Beverage industry. With continual innovation and investigation, we hope that our approach to this scarlet tisane can become a staple in all households.