Rooibos vs Green Tea - Benefits & Differences Explained (2021)

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Green Tea Vs Rooibos Tea: In-Depth Comparison

If you are interested in health and wellness, you have likely heard about the health benefits of green tea. Green tea has been consumed for thousands of years in Asia as traditional medicine and as a soothing beverage.

Rooibos tea is newer on the scene, having only gained popularity outside of South Africa in the 1990s. Rooibos is an herbal tea that grows in African bushes, and its use has grown tremendously since then due to its delicious flavor, health benefits, and illustrious history.

So how do these two different teas stack up? Let’s dive in and see what they each have to offer!

Green Tea Vs. Rooibos Tea at a Glance

Green Tea Advantages:

  • High in antioxidants
  • Lightly caffeinated
  • Improves brain function
  • Helps with fat loss

Green Tea Disadvantages:

  • Contains caffeine
  • More bitter taste than rooibos tea
  • Contains tannins
  • Contains oxalic acid

Rooibos Tea Advantages:

  • Contains antioxidants
  • Low tannin levels
  • Pleasant, non-bitter flavor
  • Great for cardiovascular health
  • No caffeine
  • Contains copper and fluoride

Rooibos Tea Disadvantages:

  • Not ideal if you are looking for a caffeine boost
  • Slightly fewer antioxidants than green tea

Winner: Don’t want to read the full article? The editor’s choice says: both are great, and it depends on your goals! The most important difference is the caffeine levels. Both teas are highly recommended for their health and mental benefits. If you want an energy boost, green tea is the way to go. If you want to be calmed and soothed, go for rooibos!

What’s the Difference Between Them?

Antioxidants

When it comes to the health benefits and differences between green tea and rooibos tea, it mostly comes down to antioxidants. Antioxidants are important because they fight free radicals in the body, preventing cancer and reducing inflammation. Both green tea and rooibos tea contain antioxidants, but the amounts and type of antioxidants differ.

Green tea contains more antioxidants than any other type of tea. It is high in antioxidant protective polyphenols, the primary one being flavonoids. Of those, the most active of which are catechins and epigallocatechin gallate which act as powerful antioxidants that fight cancer and inflammation.

With rooibos tea, it is important to note that there are two types, red and green. While both contain antioxidants, green rooibos contains a higher concentration and is the only type that contains aspalathin and nothofagin.

These are known for their anti-inflammatory effects, which means they help with ​​vascular inflammatory diseases and have anti-cancer properties [1]. In fact, green rooibos may actually prevent the growth of cancer cells at a higher rate than red rooibos.

The aspalathin in green rooibos may also help improve how your body metabolizes lipids and glucose. That means it may help fight type 2 diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance. [2]. It is possible that drinking high amounts of rooibos may interact with some medication though, so take care and don’t go overboard.

Verdict: Green tea is the winner, having a slight edge over rooibos with its higher levels of antioxidants. Check out our top recommendations for delicious & healthy green teas here.

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Caffeine Levels

The most important difference between green tea and rooibos tea is the caffeine level. Caffeine has a number of pros and cons that are important to consider when deciding between green tea and rooibos tea.

Pros of Caffeine:

  • Boosts your mental alertness, including memory, reaction time, mood, and overall brain function (fun fact- green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which further boosts your brainpower!)
  • Can improve exercise performance
  • May prevent brain aging including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Increases your metabolism
  • Improves your body’s fat-burning abilities
  • Can elevate your mood

Cons of Caffeine:

  • Can cause anxiety, jitters, and shakiness
  • Can lead to sleep troubles and insomnia
  • Can cause digestive distress
  • When consumed in excess, can cause heart palpitations
  • Can cause headaches

To avoid problems from caffeine consumption, we suggest drinking it before noon and in moderation.

Verdict: It depends on what your goals are! If you want an energy boost and mental clarity, green tea is for you. If caffeine gives you the jitters, go with herbal tea.

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Tannins and Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid is an organic compound called an antinutrient. It binds to minerals in your digestive system and prevents your body from absorbing them. For instance, many leafy greens are high in both calcium and oxalic acid, which prevents high levels of calcium from being absorbed into the body.

Many healthy foods contain oxalic acid, but it is good to be aware of which ones contain high levels if your doctor recommends avoiding these acids. If you are prone to kidney stones, eating a diet low in oxalic acid can be helpful. Green tea contains oxalic acid whereas rooibos tea does not.

Tannins, like oxalic acid, interfere with our body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients like iron in our food. They are water-soluble polyphenols common in many plant foods, and it is important to know that green tea contains higher levels of tannins than rooibos tea.

Verdict: Rooibos tea, hands down! Buy from our top recommendations here.

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Cardiovascular Health

Green tea and rooibos tea are both associated with improved cardiovascular health.

Green tea has been shown to reduce some of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart disease. It can lower LDL levels (harmful cholesterol), and reduce the overall risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Rooibos tea is also a heart health superhero, with a recent study showing that drinking 6 cups of rooibos tea over a 6 week period “improved lipid profile and redox status in adults at risk for developing cardiovascular disease” [3].

Verdict: It’s a tie! Both teas are great additions to your diet to support your ongoing cardiovascular health.

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Green Tea or Rooibos?

Ultimately, whether green tea or rooibos tea is right for you depends on your individual health concerns. If you are sensitive to caffeine, red or green rooibos tea is the better choice for you. And if you are prone to kidney stones, rooibos tea is also better so you can avoid oxalic acid and tannins.

However, if you like the boost to your mental health that green tea offers, and want the extra dose of antioxidants, green tea is the better choice for you.

Either way, you can trust that these teas will offer you not only a delicious taste, but great health benefits, too!

References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25655391/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25338943/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20833235/
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