Is Rooibos Tea Safe In Pregnancy? Risks + Benefits

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Rooibos tea tastes different from other common types of tea, and it’s a popular caffeine-free choice. Is it safe during pregnancy, and does it have any benefits for pregnant women and their babies?

Rooibos tea, green rooibos tea, and flavored rooibos teas are safe during pregnancy because they don’t contain caffeine. They are also pasteurized, which prevents possible pathogenic contamination.

It is also jam-packed with health benefits, but there is one catch during pregnancy, which we’ll discuss here.

How different are the rooibos tea varieties from each other, what are the benefits, and what should you look out for? The answers to these questions are below.

Is Red Rooibos Tea Safe in Pregnancy? 

Rooibos tea, also known as red tea, is safe for pregnant women. Like many other herbal teas, it doesn’t contain any caffeine. The maximum serving for pregnant women has not been established (source: Women’s Health & Wellness).

To make this tea, the plant shoots are chopped and browned through bruising. They are then fermented, dried in the sun, and pasteurized with steam to prevent contamination with pathogens like Salmonella (source: ScienceDirect). 

Like regular tea made from Camellia sinensis, rooibos tea also has some varieties. The most common types are red (regular), green, and flavored. Today, many are blended with different flavors (source: Rooibos Tea).   

Rooibos tea leaves in a bowl

Flavored rooibos are usually safe, as long as the teas are processed in a safe way with no harmful ingredients.

Regular or red rooibos is a bit stronger than green rooibos, with a sweet and fruity flavor. Both red and green are available plain, flavored, in tea bags, loose, or organic (source: American Botanical Council).

In the U.S, some safe, popular brands of this tea include:

Cederberg Tea Company Red Rooibos

According to their website, Cederberg Tea Company teas comply with laboratory tests throughout production to ensure a safe, hygienic, and high-quality rooibos tea (source: Rooibos Limited). 

Twinings of London Pure Rooibos Red Tea

According to their website, Twinings has produced organic, sustainable, and high-quality products for 300 years and counting.

The same is true for My Red Tea Organic Rooibos Tea

Is Green, Vanilla, or Chai Rooibos Tea Safe In Pregnancy? 

Unlike regular rooibos, green rooibos tea is created from unfermented tea leaves. It is said to have twice as many antioxidants as red tea. It also has a lighter color and a more subdued flavor.

Flavored rooibos teas contain flavorings such as mint, chamomile, vanilla, caramel, and others (source: Rooibos Tea).   

These flavorings or substances are regarded as Generally Recognized as Safe by the FDA (GRAS). Some of them are safe if they are utilized in compliance with good manufacturing practices (CFR). 

Green and flavored teas are also pasteurized. This makes them safe to drink during pregnancy.

Chai tea is also available in rooibos variety. Although this tea is safe because it has no caffeine, the maximum serving for pregnant women hasn’t been established (source: Women’s Health & Wellness). There may be other ingredients in Chai that are’t safe. For more on this, check out our article on chai tea during pregnancy here.

The Benefits of Rooibos Tea When Pregnant

Rooibos tea is rich in antioxidants, particularly polyphenols such as flavonoids and phenolic acids. These substances provide powerful protection from free radicals. 

Free radicals have been linked to damaged DNA, high cholesterol levels, clogged blood vessels, heart attacks, and strokes.

Rooibos is also considerably low in tannins. This is good news because tannins can prevent the absorption of iron from food by binding to non-heme iron. They also lessen protein metabolism (source: American Botanical Council).

Forty individuals who were at risk for cardiovascular diseases took part in a study on the effects of rooibos on oxidative stress. Results showed that rooibos helped decrease serum LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol, and modulate oxidative stress (source: ScienceDirect). 

rooibos tea in a white cup

Another study suggests the antioxidants in rooibos tea might be effective in protecting the liver in people with hepatopathies (source: Institute of Physiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic).

These are just some of the well-studied possible benefits of this tea. For other proposed health benefits of rooibos, you can read this study

Are There Any Risks or Side Effects of Rooibos When Pregnant?

There aren’t that many studies about the risks of rooibos tea during pregnancy. However, some recent research suggests you should be moderate with your intake.

A study in Japan suggested there may be a relationship between premature constriction of the ductus arteriosus (PCDA) and rooibos consumption. An infant boy was diagnosed with PCDA after his mother drank rooibos tea daily. The infant was also delivered prematurely at 36 weeks.

The researchers concluded that the infant’s case of PCDA was caused by the high polyphenol content in rooibos tea. The baby was discharged after 26 days and underwent oxygen therapy at home. 

The researchers concluded there may be a link between PCDA in babies and maternal consumption of rooibos tea (source: Dokkyo Medical Journal). 

Rooibos tea is a well-researched tea known for its health benefits. However, its maximum dose for pregnant women has not been determined, so we recommend asking your doctor before you drink it regularly. In moderation, it’s likely to be a safe, caffeine-free choice.