COFFEE and energy drinks are usually the go-to beverages for high school learners and students to help them cram for finals during the stressful months of October and November, but science suggests they drink rooibos tea as an alternative to help them stay on top of their “A” game.
Several studies point to rooibos tea’s ability to protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals and that its high level of antioxidants could reduce the effects of oxidative stress, which learners and students typically experience in the lead up to and during end-of-year exams.
Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council, explains that the brain appears to be especially susceptible to excessive oxidative stress, because of its high demand for oxygen.
“Unlike coffee, which could give you the jitters followed by a crash, rooibos tea is a cleaner-burning and longer-lasting fuel for the body since it doesn’t contain any caffeine or tannin. An added bonus is that it also relieves tension and headaches,” she remarks.
While consuming small amounts of caffeine daily is not harmful, drinking too much, such as during exam time, could prove dangerous and lead to a physical dependence since it is highly addictive. The temporary boost of energy it gives you, may also keep you awake for longer than is needed, which could lead to unwanted fatigue on exam day.
Du Toit recommends six cups of rooibos tea a day for optimal replenishing of critical antioxidants. “Rooibos tea has no side-effects and contains some of the strongest and most unique antioxidants in the plant kingdom, including aspalathin and nothofagin. Students should make the most of this natural energy drink, which is tasty, affordable and can be enjoyed hot or cold.”
• For basic rooibos iced tea use one litre of rooibos tea using four to six teabags. Sweeten the tea with honey to taste and leave in the fridge to cool overnight.
Experiment with this basic iced tea, by adding mint, lemon, orange, granadilla, mango or apple, or a combination of flavours until you find one that you love. Juiced or squeezed fresh fruit usually delivers the best results. Rooibos can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks without spoiling.
• Rooibos ice-lollies: Pour rooibos iced tea into popsicle containers or ice-cube trays and freeze for rooibos ice-lollies.