Looking for a Caffeine-Free Sip? Discover the Health Benefits of Red Tea

Red Tea

White tea, green tea, black tea. But there’s yet another colored tea to quench your thirst and warm your belly.  It’s red tea and it’s growing in popularity among tea drinkers worldwide. And it offers some advantages over green, white, and black tea, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine. This tea attracts the attention of the health-conscious crowd who leisurely sip the drink for its reported health benefits.

What Is Red Tea?

White, green, and black tea all come from the same Camellia sinensis plant and differ only in terms of their processing. Red tea, also known as rooibos tea, originates from a different species known as Aspalathus linearis, a plant that grows in the mountains of South Africa. The plant is native to South Africa and has been used for centuries by indigenous people for its medicinal properties. But these days, you can buy red tea, also labeled as rooibos tea, in supermarkets and online. It’s available in loose-leaf form and in tea bags, which you can brew at home.

What Are the Health Benefits of Red Tea?

Red tea is naturally caffeine-free and has a slightly sweet, nutty taste. One potential red tea health benefit is that it contains no caffeine. This means you can enjoy it if you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine and feel jittery when you drink it. Some people metabolize caffeine slowly and are more likely to experience side effects when they drink caffeinated beverages. Slow metabolizers have delayed clearance of caffeine and may experience health issues such as a rise in blood pressure, fast heart rate, or insomnia when consuming even small quantities of caffeine. It is important to be aware of your own metabolism and how much caffeine you can tolerate.

The Antioxidant Content of Red Tea

Like green and white tea, red tea is also rich in antioxidants, which makes it a healthy choice for those looking for an alternative to black or green tea. Antioxidants are molecules that block the oxidation of molecules. Oxidation produces free radicals, which are harmful, cell-damaging byproducts. Antioxidants work by scavenging these free radicals and preventing them from causing cell damage.

The levels of antioxidants in red tea are similar to the quantities in green and white teas. Red tea is particularly high in a type of antioxidant called flavonoids. Some animal and lab studies show flavonoids may have cancer-preventive properties. This is an area that needs more research. Red tea is also rich in a rare antioxidant known as aspalathin that black, green, or white tea doesn’t contain.

Unlike black and green tea, there’s less research into the health benefits of red tea. Some non-human studies suggest that compounds in red tea may be beneficial for liver and brain function. But this is an area that needs more study.

Red Tea and Heart Health

Perhaps the most compelling benefit of red tea may be for heart health. A study found drinking red tea may lower cardiovascular risk through its action on an enzyme called angiotensin-converting enzyme or ACE. The research looked at the effect of red tea on ACE activity in rats. ACE is an enzyme that is involved in the regulation of blood pressure.

The study found that red tea reduces ACE activity, which in turn led to a reduction in blood pressure. This is the first study to look at the effect of red tea on ACE activity, and the findings suggest that red tea could be a promising treatment for cardiovascular disease. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects.

A small study in humans showed similar blood-pressure-lowering benefits. Therefore, red tea has some of the same activity as blood pressure medications called ACE inhibitors that block the activity of the ACE enzyme to lower blood pressure.

Talk to your physician before drinking red tea if you take ACE inhibitors to treat high blood pressure, as the combination of red tea and ACE inhibitors could lower blood pressure too much.

What about Taste?

If you like your tea naturally sweet, you may prefer the sweeter taste of red tea over the more vegetal taste of green and white teas from the Camellia sinensis plant. Many people find they don’t need to add sugar due to the natural sweetness of the tea itself. However, red tea does not cause blood sugar spikes like sugar.

Red Tea Is An Alternative to Green or Black Tea

Although red tea is less extensively studied than green and black tea, the fact that it reduces ACE activity makes it an intriguing beverage to sip. Lowering ACE activity could be beneficial for heart and blood vessel health. The lack of caffeine also has appeal if you’re sensitive to the activating effects of caffeinated beverages. Plus, you can drink red tea anytime, even before bedtime. Still, green and black tea have health benefits too, so choose the one that you enjoy most. All are better for you than a soft drink!


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  • “5 Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea (Plus Side Effects).” 13 Nov. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/rooibos-tea-benefits.
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  • Persson IA. The pharmacological mechanism of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition by green tea, Rooibos and enalaprilat – a study on enzyme kinetics. Phytother Res. 2012 Apr;26(4):517-21. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3588. Epub 2011 Sep 8. PMID: 22095883.

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