Rooibos Tea

How to Make Rooibos Jam: A Sweet South African Delight

When we think of jam, the usual suspects—strawberry, raspberry, apricot—come to mind. But have you ever considered infusing your jam with the unique, aromatic flavors of rooibos tea? This South African herb, known for its deep amber color and rich, earthy taste, can elevate your homemade jam to a new level of sophistication and delight.

Rooibos, also known as “red bush,” is indigenous to the Cederberg region of South Africa. It has been cherished for centuries for its health benefits and unique flavor profile. When combined with fresh fruits in a jam, rooibos adds a subtle depth and complexity that is both unexpected and utterly delicious.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to make rooibos jam, from selecting the perfect fruits to the step-by-step process of cooking and canning. Whether you’re a seasoned jam maker or a novice in the kitchen, this guide will help you create a jar of rooibos-infused goodness that you’ll be proud to share with family and friends.

Why Rooibos?

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s take a moment to appreciate why rooibos is an excellent addition to your jam. Rooibos tea is naturally caffeine-free and rich in antioxidants, making it a healthy choice for those looking to reduce their caffeine intake or boost their immune system. Its flavor profile—nutty, slightly sweet, with hints of caramel and vanilla—complements a wide range of fruits, from berries to stone fruits to citrus.

Rooibos also has a soothing quality, making it a favorite evening beverage for many. Imagine capturing that calming essence in a jar of jam, ready to spread on your morning toast or swirl into a bowl of yogurt. The possibilities are as endless as they are delicious.

Choosing Your Fruits

The first step in making rooibos jam is selecting the fruits you’ll use. The choice of fruit can significantly impact the flavor and texture of your jam. Here are a few combinations that work exceptionally well with rooibos:

  • Strawberries and Rhubarb: The sweetness of strawberries balanced by the tartness of rhubarb creates a dynamic flavor profile that rooibos enhances beautifully.
  • Peaches and Raspberries: The juicy sweetness of peaches paired with the vibrant tang of raspberries makes for a bright, summery jam.
  • Apricots and Vanilla: The natural sweetness of apricots, with a hint of vanilla, melds perfectly with the caramel notes of rooibos.
  • Blueberries and Lemon: Blueberries’ rich, deep flavor complemented by the zestiness of lemon and the earthy undertones of rooibos creates a sophisticated jam.

For this recipe, we’ll use a classic combination: strawberries and rhubarb. The natural pectin in rhubarb helps to thicken the jam, while strawberries add sweetness and color.


To make a batch of rooibos jam, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 4 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 2 cups of rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 cup of strongly brewed rooibos tea (use 3-4 tea bags or 3 tablespoons of loose rooibos)
  • 3 cups of granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 packet of pectin (optional, depending on desired thickness)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (optional)


  • Large, heavy-bottomed pot
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • Jam jars with lids
  • Canning funnel
  • Ladle
  • Canning pot or large stockpot for sterilizing jars
  • Tongs or jar lifter
  • Clean cloths or paper towels


Step 1: Prepare the Rooibos Tea

Start by brewing a strong cup of rooibos tea. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, then add 3-4 rooibos tea bags or 3 tablespoons of loose rooibos tea. Allow it to steep for at least 10 minutes to ensure a robust flavor. Once brewed, strain the tea to remove the leaves or bags and set it aside.

Step 2: Sterilize Your Jars

While the tea is brewing, sterilize your jam jars. Place the jars and lids in a large pot of boiling water and let them boil for at least 10 minutes. This step is crucial to ensure your jam stays fresh and safe to eat. Use tongs or a jar lifter to remove the jars from the water and place them on a clean towel to dry.

Step 3: Prepare the Fruit

Wash and hull the strawberries, then chop them into small pieces. Do the same with the rhubarb, ensuring the pieces are roughly the same size as the strawberries. This will help the fruits cook evenly.

Step 4: Cook the Fruit

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the chopped strawberries, rhubarb, and sugar. Stir well to ensure the fruit is evenly coated with sugar. Add the brewed rooibos tea and lemon juice, and stir to combine.

Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer. As it simmers, use a spoon to skim off any foam that forms on the surface.

Step 5: Add the Pectin (Optional)

If you prefer a thicker jam, you can add pectin at this stage. Follow the instructions on the pectin packet for the correct amount to use. Typically, you’ll mix the pectin with a small amount of sugar and then stir it into the jam. Let the mixture continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until it reaches your desired consistency.

Step 6: Test the Jam

To test if the jam is ready, place a small plate in the freezer for a few minutes. Once chilled, spoon a small amount of jam onto the plate and return it to the freezer for 2-3 minutes. Remove the plate and gently push the edge of the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles and holds its shape, the jam is ready. If not, continue to simmer and test again every few minutes.

Step 7: Jar the Jam

Once the jam has reached the desired consistency, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla bean seeds, if using. Carefully ladle the hot jam into the sterilized jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of headspace at the top. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean cloth or paper towel to remove any spills, then place the lids on top.

Step 8: Process the Jars

To ensure a proper seal, process the filled jars in a boiling water bath. Place the jars back in the large pot of boiling water, making sure they are fully submerged. Boil the jars for 10 minutes, then use tongs or a jar lifter to remove them from the water. Place the jars on a clean towel and let them cool completely. As they cool, you should hear the lids “pop,” indicating a proper seal.

Enjoying Your Rooibos Jam

Congratulations! You’ve made your very own rooibos jam. Once the jars have cooled and sealed, you can store them in a cool, dark place for up to a year. If any jars did not seal properly, store them in the refrigerator and use them within a few weeks.

Rooibos jam is incredibly versatile. Here are a few ideas for enjoying your homemade creation:

  • Spread on Toast: The classic way to enjoy jam is on a slice of buttered toast. The rich, earthy flavors of rooibos will make your breakfast feel extra special.
  • Swirled into Yogurt: Add a dollop of rooibos jam to your morning yogurt for a burst of flavor and a touch of sweetness.
  • Paired with Cheese: Rooibos jam pairs wonderfully with a variety of cheeses, from creamy brie to sharp cheddar. Create an elegant cheese board with a jar of your homemade jam at the center.
  • Used in Baking: Incorporate rooibos jam into your baking. It makes a fantastic filling for thumbprint cookies, a glaze for cakes, or a surprise layer in a homemade tart.
  • As a Topping: Use rooibos jam as a topping for pancakes, waffles, or even ice cream. The possibilities are endless!

Final Thoughts …

Making rooibos jam is not only a delightful culinary adventure but also a way to bring a piece of South African heritage into your kitchen. The unique flavor of rooibos tea, combined with fresh fruits and a touch of sweetness, creates a jam that is both comforting and exciting.

Whether you’re a seasoned jam maker or a curious beginner, this recipe offers a new twist on traditional preserves. So, gather your ingredients, brew a pot of rooibos tea, and get ready to create a jar of magic that will brighten your breakfasts, elevate your snacks, and impress your loved ones.

Happy jamming!