Here’s why South African men love Rooibos

The need to unwind sees guys opt for herbal drinks rather than booze

Experts have found multiple benefits for men who drink Rooibos.
Experts have found multiple benefits for men who drink Rooibos.
Image: Supplied

A national survey released during Men’s Health Month unveils insights into the beverage preferences of South African men.

Conducted among more than 700 respondents, the survey captured the beverage choices among men in different settings, professions and age groups, providing valuable data to understand beverage preferences, drinking habits and views about healthier lifestyles.

The survey commissioned by the South African Rooibos Council also delved into how stereotypes impact tea-drinking behaviours.

The survey found 46% of men start their day with a cup of coffee while 30% opt for Rooibos. Water was the third most popular daybreak drink at 9%, followed by black tea (4%) and other herbal infusions such as chamomile, chai, ginger and hibiscus at 2%.

For unwinding after a long day, Rooibos tops the list at 32%, followed by beer at 19% and coffee at 12%. Spirits and wine were also popular choices at 11% and 10% respectively.

Men reported drinking Rooibos not only to relax, but also to support physical activity, illustrating the versatile nature of the tisane. During workouts, hydration is crucial. The survey revealed 67% of men prioritise water during exercise. Rooibos was the second most favoured workout drink, followed by other herbal tisanes. Sports drinks and electrolyte-enhanced water were cited as fourth and fifth options.

In social settings, Rooibos and beer are tied as the preferred drinks at 47%, with black tea, coolers and ciders following closely behind. Among men, the predominant consideration when selecting a beverage was “taste”, with “occasion and setting” (47%) and “health considerations” (39%) also proving significant.

In the hot beverage category, 45% of males preferred coffee and 42% opt for Rooibos. Black tea and hot chocolate followed at 5%. More than 42% of men drink at least one cup of Rooibos daily, 22% consume two to three servings a week and 17% drink it every other week.

Almost half (47%) of those surveyed highlighted evolving views on tea/tisanes as a drink accepted by people of all genders and ages, expressing their enjoyment of Rooibos regardless of the situation or company. A small percentage (5%) felt tea was predominantly associated with women rather than men, which explains why, in certain social settings, they prefer alternatives like coffee or beer.

Cultural and familial connections are strong among Rooibos drinkers, with 55% indicating the ties as likely reasons for their preference. Another 29% enjoy Rooibos for its taste and health benefits without necessarily growing up with it or having special connections to the tisane. The survey highlighted that 55% of men enjoy Rooibos in social and solitary settings, while 31% prefer to consume it alone or with close companions.

Generational differences also emerged, with the Silent Generation (aged 79-96) being the most frequent Rooibos drinkers at 67%. Millennials (aged 28 to 43) ranked second at 48%, followed by Baby Boomers (aged 60-78) at 44%. Gen X (aged 44-59) ranked fourth with 35%, while Gen Z (aged 18-27) came in fifth at 30%.

In terms of professions, men in the construction and engineering industries prefer Rooibos over any other hot beverage, with those in IT and telecoms, hospitality, entrepreneurship and skilled trades (such as electricians and plumbers) following suit.

Dr Gerald Maarman, a biomedical scientist and Rooibos researcher, said Rooibos offers myriad health benefits, particularly for men.

“Its antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, crucial for those with active lifestyles. Rooibos also supports heart health by improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels, aiding in muscle recovery, reducing muscle spasms and enhancing sleep quality. Additionally, it improves sperm concentration and function, immune function, weight management and skin health.”

The Men’s Drinking Habits Survey highlighted Rooibos as a versatile and healthy beverage choice for men, cementing its role in their daily routines while promoting overall wellbeing.


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