The Complete Guide to Honeybush and Rooibos

February 28, 2023

by Abby Morrison

Welcome back to another round of PersonaliTEAs, where we go deep on your favorite steeps. This time, we’re taking a trip to South Africa to learn about two plants so tasty they’ve created their own category of tea: Rooibos and Honeybush.

What Is It?

Rooibos and Honeybush are two bush-like plants endemic to Southern Africa. The leaves are oxidized and used to make tisanes, or teas made without leaves from the actual tea plant, which are commonly referred to as red teas on account of their beautiful red-brown color in the cup.

Both teas are naturally caffeine free, and similar to black tea in flavor, which makes them excellent night-time alternatives for black tea fans. And for daytime fans, since they won’t become bitter if left in the pot, they can be kept over low heat throughout the day for all-day, no-hassle tea. Honeybush is great for this in particular as the heated tea will fill the house with a lovely, honey-like floral aroma, though our Roots Campaign Rooibos farmer, Niklaas Jakobus Slinger, says there’s no better way to enjoy Rooibos than that way too!

Preparation and Taste

As mentioned above, both teas have similarities to black teas, with bold, strong flavors. There are some differences, however. Rooibos tends to be very bright in its flavors, whereas Honeybush is quite sweet in comparison. They also both lack the astringency of black tea and will not have the same earthy or mineral-y flavors you can get from some black tea varieties.

As herbal teas, both should be steeped at 212°C, with standard steep times varying between 5–10 minutes depending on what other flavors are included in the blend. Traditionally, Rooibos can be boiled for hours, though!

Because both tisanes consist of cut and bruised leaves, we recommend using an infuser with holes small enough to ensure tea pieces do not escape. Both are well-suited to additions like honey, sugar, or milk, and both can be enjoyed iced or with additional milk and spices like in lattes.

Rooibos Flavor Pairings

Similar to black teas, red teas pair well with a variety of flavors. Rooibos, for example, can provide a lighter note for rich flavors like Rooibos Caramel or Rooibos Pecan Turtle.

Rooibos provides robust backbone for lighter flavors, this is found in: Rooibos Lemon Cloud and Green Rooibos Citron.

Or, try this delectable duo when paired with spices or earthy tones like in the brand new Chaga Chai and Rooibos Vanilla Chai.

Honeybush Flavor Pairings

Honeybush, whose main characteristic is its sweetness, pairs well with extravagant, indulgent flavors, providing the underlying sweetness for flavors like Honeybush Banana Nut, Honeybush Blueberry Pancake, or Honeybush Hazelnut.

If you want to re-create a favorite baked good or dessert in tea form honeybush is a great place to start.


If you’re looking to take your tea pairing skills to the next level, consider adding these two lovely teas directly into your recipes. Our TeaChef site is chock-full of options for you to try, such as Vanilla Rooibos Bread Pudding, Whipped Honeybush Hazelnut Tea Hot Chocolate, Sugar Hazelnut Cream Pie, or Strawberry Banana Marshmallows.

If you want to really get wild, you can also make a new recipe and share it with us on our TeaChef site!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this deep dive on rooibos and honeybush. We hope you’ve found some new teas to try, and as always, if you enjoy them, let us know on social @adagioteas.