Health benefits of red tea boosts sales

Related tags Tea Black tea

While green tea has been getting its name around the block, red tea
has taken a little longer to become a household name, but its sales
are said to be soaring on the back of its purported health

Red tea, or rooibos, comes from South Africa, and, like green tea, boasts a host of health benefits - research suggests that rooibos red tea may protect against cancer, skin cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

Rooibos is now widely available in the States - exported from South Africa by Rooibos Ltd​ to be included in brands such as Celestial Seasonings, The Republic of Tea and The Stash Tea Company.

Rooibos claims that sales of red tea have "increased exponentially over the past four years"​ and that worldwide export sales have increased by 400 percent between 1998 and 2003, but they were unable to provide more detailed data. However, the company did note that the US still lags behind Europe and Japan in terms of sales of the tea.

Studies carried out in South Africa have showed that rooibos is rich in antioxidants and may help protect against free radical damage that can lead to varying types of cancer and heart problems.

"We concluded that rooibos extracts interfered with skin cancer in its promotion [later development] stage. This provides the first evidence of a protective effect for rooibos teas,"​ said Jeanine Marnewick, from the Medical Research Council of South Africa.

She added that: "Mouse skin that was topically treated with the rooibos extracts before cancer promotion showed a 75 percent decrease in the development of skin papillomas."​ Marnewick and her team hopes now to carry out similar studies on human models.

Further research seemed to show that rooibos teas are antimutagenic, meaning they protect against induced DNA damage, and enhance the activity of certain important carcinogen-detoxifying enzymes in the liver.

"DNA damage can lead to cancer development and rooibos showed protective effects against DNA damage when tested in an in vitro assay as well as in an animal system, or in vivo,"​ said Marnewick.

Traditionally, caffeine-free rooibos is famed for helping to relieve constipation, various types of inflammatory dermatitis and milk allergies in babies.

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