Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to Pronounce Rooibos

Throughout my research of tea, I have come across several different pronunciations of the African herbal “tea” known as Rooibos. The question that I pose is which one is correct… or does it even matter?

First, I want to mention that Rooibos really isn’t tea when the word “tea” is used to describe the goodness that comes from the Camellia Sinensis [third picture] or Camellia Assamica plans. Rooibos [first picture] or “red tea,” as it is sometimes referred to (mostly because they can’t figure out how to pronounce Rooibos), comes from the Calicotome Villosa plant [second picture] or “redbush.” Because of this, Rooibos does not have the same nutrients and health benefits as tea. Rooibos is classified as herbal “tea” because of its lack of caffeine and its own bag of tricks when it comes to health benefits.*

Second, I would like to point out that some definitions classify the word “tea” as anything that is steeped in water and drank. It is not necessarily hot water as there are cold brewing methods, as well. I am indifferent to this definition because when I think of the word “tea,” I think of what comes from the Camellia Sinensis or Camellia Assamica plant. Thus, when I hear or see the word “tea” being used to describe the steeping of other herbs and spices in water, my left eye starts to twitch.** This twitching is normally reserved for when I see the wrong uses of words such as “your/you’re, their/they’re/there, etc.”

Therefore, I try to stick with referring to this particular kind of substance as Rooibos and avoid using the “red tea” terminology.

With all of that said, it brings me to my original question: How does one pronounce Rooibos?

These are the pronunciations that I have heard thus far:

The conclusion I have made is the first pronunciation (ROY-boss) seems to be the most popular way of saying Rooibos according to my Wiki and Google searches.

This is how I have always pronounced it. Although, I have caught myself saying ROY-bohs instead of boss. Oh well. I guess I would rather learn how to say a slightly difficult word than say “red tea,” confuse people with the difference between real tea and herbal “tea,” and start twitching again.

*I am not going to go into detail about the health benefits of Rooibos because I personally don’t care about them… I like to focus more on taste. If you would like to know the specifics then look them up. Google or Wiki is a good place to start.

**Ok, not really. I was just trying to get my point across.

Image References: Calicotome Villosa, Camellia Sinensis


Matt said...

Hi Brittiny,
We had a customer from South Africa as well as a supplier that instructed us that the pronunciation was ROY-boss as well, for what it's worth.

Matt Graham
WhiteAugust Tea Company

Steph said...

That's how I say it too, tho I'm no expert on the pronunciation. ;-) I am learning to love this "tea" more each time I drink it. I find it's especially good in blends.

Alex Zorach said...

I also try to avoid "red tea", not only because it risks confusion with the Chinese "red tea" = what we call black tea, but also because honeybush, another plant from South Africa, produces a red-colored herbal tea very similar to rooibos. Also...there's green rooibos, which is still rooibos, but is not red!

Contabili Bucuresti said...

I never know how to pronounce this word. I searched over the internet a lot, but i found a lot of ways.