Rooibos extracts are being incorporated into a growing variety of product applications, including bars, confections, herbal teas and supplements, “energy” beverages, juice beverages and fruit-flavored milk drinks.
In most applications sold in the U.S., the rooibos is derived from the red, fermented variety. Rooibos’s health-promoting characteristics are mainly ascribed to its numerous nutraceutical compounds, especially the flavonoids aspalathin, nothofagin, quercetin, quercitrin, rutin and vitexin.
Although most of these antioxidative phytochemicals occur ubiquitously in plants, aspalathin so far is found exclusively in rooibos. [Editor’s note: For more information on rooibos, see “South Africa’s Red Rocker,” February 2007.]
A new aspalathin-standardized, antioxidative-effective green rooibos tea extract is now available from RAPS GmbH and Co., Kulmbach, Germany, in co-operation with Vitiva (www.vitiva.si), Slovenia and PL Thomas Inc. (www.plthomas.com), Morristown, N.J. Unlike red rooibos, the green variety is produced by interrupting the natural fermentation process the leaves are quickly withered, steamed to prevent enzymatic oxidation and then dried.
Green rooibos is left with higher concentrations of most of the key nutrients, including flavonoids and antioxidants. Working in close collaboration with researchers from South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council, RAPS designed a process to produce a standardized green rooibos extract with three times the antioxidant potential of competitive extracts from conventional fermented rooibos. Among the asserted benefits of this extract are enhanced antimicrobial, antispasmodic, antidepressive and anti-allergic properties.
– Morton Satin, Ph.D.
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