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Unlike regular tea, which is from the plant Camellia sinensis, rooibos tea is derived from the plant Aspalathus linearis. I've checked CRC and Star-K and their tea-specific articles don't mention this tea specifically.

Given the similarity in preparation, and the fact that the desired part of the plant to make this tea is the leaf:

  1. Would it need a hechsher throughout the year?
  2. Because it's classified as a legume, is it kitniyos, even if the part of the plant used is the leaf, and not the seeds? Would there be concern on Pesach that parts of the seeds would be mixed in with the leaves, or are we less concerned because that might be a sofek and kitniyos is minhag?

Obviously, CYLOR, but I plan to bring the information I get here as part of my shayla.

Thank you in advance!

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A great summary of all the kashrut issues with tea can be found at

http://www.star-k.org/articles/kashrus-kurrents/kashurs-kurrents-2013/summer-kashrus-kurrents-2013/1145/the-kashrus-of-tea-with-no-strings-attached/

Rooibos Tea is not a tea in that - as you point out - it is not Camellia sinensis.

The blanket statement that all plain non-flavoured caffeinated Camellia sinensis tea does not require a specific hechsher therefore does not apply. You cannot extrapolate from proper tea to Rooibos.

Rooibos is a herbal "tea" or herbal infusion or Tisane like chamomile, peppermint, etc. and therefore requires a hechsher like any other herbal "tea".

From http://matzav.com/chicago-rabbinical-council-top-ten-kashrus-questions-for-october-2013/

Q: Do tea bags require a hechsher?

A: Tea bags that just contain tea and other non-kosher sensitive leaves and herbs do not require a hechsher. Teas that contain actual flavorings do require a hechsher. These teas will commonly list “flavors” or “natural flavors” in the ingredients

From http://www.crcweb.org/kosher_articles/coffee_and_tea_pesach.php

Tea for Pesach

Black, green, white, yellow, oolong, and jasmine tea are all inherently kosher for Pesach, but the issues of decaffeination and flavoring apply to tea in the same way that they apply to coffee. For that reason all decaffeinated tea and all flavored tea (which includes most herbal teas) should only be used on Pesach if they bear an appropriate Pesach certification.

Note that Rooibos is a herbal tea and is not included in the above.

  • I'm not following how this answers the question. You are quoting a bunch of sources and claiming they don't apply to Rooibos. – Yishai Dec 7 '15 at 21:22
  • @Yishai Exactly. I am trying to show that all the general statements about tea being acceptable without a hechsher apply to proper tea, not rooibos. Therefore rooibos is not included in the blanket statement. Therfore, as my LOR says, rooibos needs a hechsher. – Ask613 Dec 7 '15 at 21:51
  • That last line of your comment is the only thing you wrote which answers the question. Note, though, that my answer also concluded that it needed a Hechsher because it is sold flavored. I don't know if your LOR was making a distinction. There is no reason that Aspalathus linearis, if processed the same way as Camellia sinensis into tea, needs a hechsher. I suspect it wouldn't be appealing to the market, though, so it is sold with flavors. – Yishai Dec 7 '15 at 22:09
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The CRC says:

Q: Do tea bags require a hechsher?

A: Tea bags that just contain tea and other non-kosher sensitive leaves and herbs do not require a hechsher. Teas that contain actual flavorings do require a hechsher. These teas will commonly list “flavors” or “natural flavors” in the ingredients.

All of these, for example, state on their ingredient lists things like "artificial flavoring" or "natural and artificial flavoring", so you would have to be sure that this is not on the ingredient list of the tea you are looking at.

Regarding passover, Kosher Quest says (as of March 2015):

The O/U maintains that all regular tea bags, that are not flavored or decaffeinated, are acceptable for Pesach without special Pesach supervision.

Note this is in contrast with Yitzchak Abadi referenced in the other answer who has concerns about tea bags for Passover.

Regarding Kitnius, the Beis Din of South Africa (here) says it is fine for passover, and they are Ashkenazi, so it would appear to not be though of as Kitnius.

  • Rooibos is not a tea. You cannot extrapolate from what the CRC says about tea to Rooibos. – Ask613 Dec 7 '15 at 17:30
  • @Ask613, the CRC link is discussing tea bags. Rooibos is sold in tea bags. – Yishai Dec 7 '15 at 19:05
  • Yes, but lots/most herbal infusions are sold in tea-bags too, and they are not tea. The quotes you give above are for proper tea sold in tea-bags, not for herbal infusions a.k.a. herbal "tea" sold in tea bags – Ask613 Dec 7 '15 at 20:06
  • @Ask613, actually the CRC quote does cover herbs - "other non-kosher sensitive leaves and herbs". – Yishai Dec 7 '15 at 20:12
  • I guess the question is what qualifies as "non-kosher sensitive". I remember asking about Earl Gray Tea from my LOR years ago. Earl Gray contains tea with Oil of Bergamot, which is why Earl Gray needs a specific hechsher but regular tea does not. The question is if Rooibos is grouped in with this. How do we know, based on ingredients alone, whether something is non-kosher sensitive? We know proper tea is not, because the kosher authorities have said so. – Ask613 Dec 7 '15 at 20:17
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As long as it's loose leaf, and the only ingredient listed is the tea itself with no flavorings, it's kosher without a hechsher per Yitzchak Abadi.

Source1: http://kashrut.org/forum/viewpost.asp?mid=53544&highlight=teA

Source2: http://kashrut.org/forum/viewpost.asp?mid=13598&highlight=tea%20leaves

  • Thanks for your answer! My concern is that there might be differences between that p'sak because this is tea is more technically an "herbal tea"; it's not derived from Camellia. – JoshPactor Sep 24 '15 at 22:27
  • Doesn't matter. See this further response kashrut.org/forum/… – Aaron Sep 25 '15 at 1:39
  • @Aaron - those questions and answers are about proper tea, which Rooibos is not. – Ask613 Dec 7 '15 at 20:19
  • @Ask613 If you study Rabbi Abadi's other responses you would discover that even if it's not a proper tea, it still wouldn't matter. – Aaron Dec 7 '15 at 20:21
  • @Aaron There is a discussion here twoleavestea.com/blog/2012/02/29/… about some specific ingredients that can be in a tea bag that are specifically not kosher, including grape derivatives. – Ask613 Dec 7 '15 at 20:24

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