Rooibos tea made with espresso machine

redespresso.jpg I enjoy using my Rancilio Silvia to make espresso as much as I enjoy drinking espresso. I wish I could make a shot every couple of hours, but I can't tolerate more than 3 double-shots a day. And decaf seems to make me jittery without the good rush of caffeine so I rarely drink it.

I recently bought a bag of Red Espresso, which is rooibos tea ground for espresso makers. Rooibos has no caffeine, and has a strong toasty flavor. It's fun to make espresso-style and it even produces a crema-like substance. It's a wonderful before-bed treat. (This is an unsolicited endorsement. Boing Boing doesn't accept money for posts.)

Red Espresso Rooibos


  1. What a nifty idea! I wonder if a person could take regular tea or whatever flavor tea, and grind it in a little coffee grinder to an espresso grind, and do that. I wonder how it would turn out? How clever!

  2. I would think that this would be too high a temp for proper tea making, but without a Pepsi challenge, I cannot really comment.


  3. I went through a while where I would “aggressively steep” my Rooibos for 6 hours or so. Since it doesn’t become bitter like black tea, you can get wonderful flavours out of it that just don’t appear after the usual 5 minutes in hot water.

  4. Rooibos isn’t tea and I’ve read that the hotter the better. I am thrilled as I LOVE rooibos, have heard that they do this in South Africa and just acquired an espresso machine. Whole Paycheck here I come!!

  5. On the other hand, I make Yerba Mate in my espresso maker about as often as I make real espresso. Very green tasting, very tasty.

  6. Sounds interesting but, especially in the case of mate, I think you would really be missing out on the ritual passing of gourd and silver straw. Of course you could go even more traditional and use a cow’s horn.

  7. Well! With this blog, my espresso maker just went from “stupid investment — who can deal with making espresso when they haven’t drunk any yet?” to beverage-making machine of the gods. Win!

    @6 Piedmont — do you grind the yerba mate extra fine, or just use it as-is out of the bag?

  8. I feel coffee snobbery coming on …

    To #1: those little blade coffee grinders stink. They produce really inconsistent grinds and usually result in something that cannot reasonably be called espresso. I don’t think it would work terribly well with tea leaves, either.

    To #2: Ah, but proper espresso machines do not rely on high temperatures, but moderately hot temperature and high pressure. It’s a very delicate process, and one that Mark’s Rancilio Silvia is more than capable of. Silvias are very loverly machines.

    I have tried red espresso. I find it delicious. But rooibos is generally the only tea I drink anymore. Earl Grey is dead to me.

  9. @Kal (#8)
    I use it whole, with a much looser pack than for coffee as it expands quite a bit. Strangely, the thoguht of grinding it finer never occured to me. Either way, Mate Espresso with some honey and Vanilla Soy Milk is a delicious hippie latte with a fair energy punch to it.

  10. I believe this has been fairly popular in Johannesburg for a few years now. I think it was actually a bit yuppy-ish ;)

    Rooibos is a wonderful tea, and provides strong motivation for conserving the fynbos.

  11. @#9 But, but… I love my little blade coffee grinder. I can make the fluffiest flax seed powder to the finest chopped lemongrass, and still make a mean espresso shot.

    Oh well. I’ve been doing this with yerba mate and thai tea for years.

  12. I actually prefer the tea that comes out of my single-cup coffee maker – makes it much, much stronger, and makes me much more functional.

  13. I don’t know, I guess it’s me. But it seems a bit precocious that on the same web page I can see a story about an Abu Ghraib coffee table, then read a short review of the pleasures of a delightful tea. To each his own, as they say. I’ll keep that in mind as I read about the latest PETA protest during my herbal bubble bath.

  14. It’s popular here in Boston, where MEM Tea Imports distributes rooibos powder to the local cafes and restaurants. We have rooibos espresso, latte, and cappuccino, with or without chai spices or flavor shots (I like vanilla). A number of places won’t brew it though because you either need to have a dedicated basket or do a VERY thorough job cleaning because rooibos coffee is certainly funky. I haven’t seen redbush powder though, which I’d like to try someday.
    In case you’re interested:
    MEM Tea Imports, 316 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA 02144, (617) 627-9500

  15. Seconding KSLAYS comment on Boston’s rooibos espresso connection. Both Bloc 11 and True Grounds in Somerville will make you a rooibos latte, and I imagine Diesel (Bloc’s mother-store) will do so as well. To my taste, True Grounds is better, and they don’t automatically put (ugh) vanilla syrup in it. Unsweetened rooibos lattes are delicious; slightly earthy-sweet, and very odd looking.

    It should be noted that I am a confirmed coffee drinker, but the espressed rooib’ is too good not to try on occasion.

    MEM Tea is a real treasure, by the way. Their mint-matte combo (whatever they call it) is very balanced– not too minty, not to matte-y.

  16. The Spiral Diner in Fort Worth, TX does this for their chai latte. They use loose-leaf tea and pack it just like coffee. The spices come out nice and strong. No idea if it would work for a regular brew, though.

  17. This sounds interesting, and I’d love to try it from a machine with a group head and PF basket that’s been very thoroughly cleaned and dedicated exclusively to tea…

    But aren’t you afraid you’ll befoul your silvia by putting anything that’s not coffee in there? I love both espresso and tea, but espresso with even the vaguest hint of tea (or vice versa) is truly revolting.

  18. Seems the makers don’t sell to UK online and a quick google didn’t find any suppliers. SO anyone know where us Brits might be able to buy some of this?

  19. LUKE1972, you can buy Rooibos tea at Tesco and Sainsburys, actually any of the popular Supermarkets.
    Otherwise at Holland and Barett

  20. I used to work in the cafe at a Borders about six years ago. This was before they switched to auto-grind-portion-spit-out-7/11 style x-press-oh machines. We used to make an iced tea by pulling four shots from two bags of Republic of Tea’s “Good Hope Vanilla” rooibos through the filter & pouring over ice. It started out as a staff favorite, then became wildly popular as a “special”.

  21. WILL, alas, Diesel will not make rooibos lattes. I have been working on converting them for a while, to no avail. True Grounds is also my fav locale for coffee or rooibos, but I don’t make it out to Ball Square often. (Also, in my previous post, I meant honeybush, not redbush.)

Comments are closed.