For thousands of years, healers and medicine men have used rosehip berries in treatments, tonics and remedies.
The fruit of the rose bush (rosa canina) can be steeped with hot water to make a flavorful rosehip tea that is rich in Vitamin C, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, polyphenols, B Vitamins and dozens of other beneficial minerals and compounds that can strengthen overall health.
Our ancestors also used rosehip tea and other tinctures made from the rose bush to treat upset stomachs gastrointestinal distress, help wounds heal faster and cure fatigue. Ancient healers realized that rosehip tea had powerful medicinal properties, and they used it in a wide variety of ways.
In fact, rosehips have 25 to 40 times more Vitamin C by weight than citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, which makes them one of the best naturally occurring sources of Vitamin C.
Studies have shown that diets rich in Vitamin C can improve blood circulation and heart health, and it’s an essential vitamin for absorbing iron, forming bones, collagen, blood cells and teeth.
People have been cultivating rose bushes for more than 5,000 years, and it’s believed that the earliest garden cultivation took place in China.
Ancient healers would have picked the bright red vitamin-packed rosehip berries that grow on the bushes each fall, and soon they discovered that the fruits could be made into rosehip tea and other medicines to treat a range of illnesses.
The Romans also used roses to make medicinal tonics such as rosehip tea — and luxuries such as perfume. Roses were so important to their culture that the Romans created large rose gardens for citizens to enjoy.
Pliny the Elder, a Roman thinker and one of the first authors to write about natural history, recorded dozens of uses for the berries, including rosehip tea that was used as a medicinal cure for stomach illnesses and fatigue.
He also noticed that rosehips seemed to help wounds heal faster, which modern pharmaceutical companies and scientists now wholly endorse. Numerous studies have shown that rosehip oil helps skin injuries heal much more quickly, and it also minimizes the appearance of scars.
A Symbol of War, And Love
During the 15th century, roses symbolized the warring noble families in England. The House of Lancaster used the red rose, while the House of York used the white rose.
Decades of civil wars between the families called the “Wars of the Roses” tore the nation apart and eventually eliminated the male heirs of both family lines.
Ultimately, the families were reunited again in the House of Tudor, which combined the red and white roses into a new emblem that is still used today.
Roses also feature prominently in thousands of books and written records dating back to the dawn of civilization.
There are hundreds of references to roses in the Bible, and authors including Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Sylvia Plath and Langston Hughes all paid tribute to the flower.
Roses have long been a symbol of love and affection, and an estimated $2 billion worth of flowers — mainly roses — are sold each year on Valentine’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation.
Where They Grow
Temperate climates are especially good for roses, such as those found in England, the Mediterranean, the southern regions of Eastern Europe, and the Southern United States.
There are more than 150 species of roses in the Northern Hemisphere of the United States alone, and many of them can be used to make rosehip tea.
At the end of summer, the rose bush drops its leaves and the berries begin to grow. When the rosehips turn bright red or orange around the time of the first frost, that is the signal that the fruit is ready to be harvested.
Harvesting your own berries to make rosehip tea is an easy and rewarding process.
Hand Harvesting Rosehips
Choose bushes that haven’t been treated with pesticides, artificial fertilizers or other harsh chemicals, and wear gloves to avoid being scratched by thorns.
Select berries that are bright red or orange, and firm to the touch. Don’t pick any that have been broken open, eaten by birds or bugs, or show signs of rot.
Harvest the rosehips by hand by snapping the berries from the branch, or use clippers to gently cut them from the branches.
The fresh berries can be used right away to make a brightly flavored rosehip tea that is tangy and tart and tastes like the flower petals that gave it energy to grow.
The berries can also be dried and stored in a cool dark place such as a refrigerator or freezer for later use. Rosehip tea made from aged berries will have a darker, more jammy flavor than rosehip tea made with freshly picked berries. (Check out our recipe below for Rosehip Iced Tea.)
Loaded With Vitamin C
Rosehip tea delivers a powerful punch of Vitamin C, and a single cup typically contains an entire day’s supply of Vitamin C needs.
Some varieties of the berries can have as much as 40 times more Vitamin C than citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that helps keep bones strong, promotes blood circulation, regulates blood pressure, encourages the growth of new blood cells and is critical for overall health. A deficiency can lead to serious medical conditions such as scurvy, as well as hair loss, bleeding gums and other ailments.
Because our bodies can’t make it on their own, we must get it from the foods and beverages we consume, such as rosehip tea.
During World War II, when military blockades prevented fresh food shipments from reaching the island of Britain and Vitamin C deficiency was a major concern, the government used rosehips to make a dietary supplemental syrup. The government also urged people to forage for rosehip berries in their own yards and make their own rosehip tea, rosehip syrup or rosehip marmalade.
Rosehips also have B Complex Vitamins, Vitamin E, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, polyphenols and dozens of other vitamins, nutrients and beneficial compounds that help keep our bodies strong.
Rosehip tea is a great immunity booster, and the Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells and respiratory health to combat colds, flu and other common illnesses.
The berries are also full of carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that fight the free radicals that can damage cells and are linked to cancer.
Studies have shown that rosehip tea can reduce inflammation, promote heart health, help our bodies regulate blood pressure, improve circulation, strengthen our bones, boost digestion, regulate blood sugar levels, help wounds heal faster and relieve pain.
Some nutritionists recommend rosehip tea as part of a healthy diet, and the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of rosehip tea are being studied by scientists and doctors who are hopeful that the healing properties might become more mainstream in modern medicine.
Glowing Skin, Shiny Hair
Walk into any beauty counter or cosmetics store, and you will see dozens of products made with rosehip oil.
The high concentrations of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds help brighten skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots, improve elasticity and even out skin tone. It also minimizes the appearance of scars, and makes scarred skin more supple.
You can rub a few drops of pure cold-pressed rosehip oil right into your skin, or mix a few drops with your favorite lotions and other skincare products for an extra boost of moisture and nutrients. It absorbs into your skin right away, and doesn’t have the heavy, greasy feeling of some products.
Celebrities including Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, have raved about the anti-aging effects of rosehip oil.
Rosehip oil is also great for treating sunburned skin. Gently rub the oil over sunburned areas and let it sink in before putting on clothes. Reapply morning and night until the burn has healed.
Drinking rosehip tea or other rosehip drinks can enhance the benefits of using rosehip oil in your beauty regimen because it has the same natural oils, vitamins and minerals that brighten skin and keep your hair shiny and healthy.
Rosehip tea is an herbal tea, meaning it’s naturally caffeine free so it won’t lead to restlessness or prevent you from falling asleep at night.
Another reason to avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee and black tea is that their acids and harsh chemicals can cause acid indigestion, sour stomach and other problems with the digestive tract.
Get a natural, healthy energy boost that lasts all day and doesn’t cause a crash later by choosing rosehip tea instead. The B Vitamins and Vitamin C work together to increase energy, improve your focus and keep you clear-headed without the jitters that caffeine can cause.
Rosehip tea is gentle enough to drink any time of the day, it’s a terrific choice for children, women who are pregnant or nursing, the elderly, and anyone who wants to minimize or eliminate caffeine from their diet.
If you are using the fresh whole berries to make rosehip tea, you can gently muddle the rosehips to release their juice and flavor, and steep them in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.
Freshly made rosehip tea can be cooled, stored in a glass container and kept in the refrigerator for three days.
Here is a delicious recipe for Rosehip Iced Tea, which is loaded with Vitamin C, B Complex Vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids and dozens of other healthy compounds that will give you a natural energy boost that lasts all day.
Rosehip Iced Tea
1 cup of rosehip berries (either fresh or dried)
¼ cup sugar or honey
4 slices of lemon
Boil a kettle of water. If using fresh berries to make this rosehip tea, mash them to release the juices and open up the flavors.
Put the rosehips and sugar or honey into a heat-proof pitcher, and pour four cups of boiling water over the fruit.
Allow it to steep 10-15 minutes until the rosehip tea is a bright orange color and very fragrant.
Use a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to strain the rosehips, pith and seeds out of the rosehip tea. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature.
Fill four glasses with ice, pour the rosehip tea into the glasses and garnish each with a slice of lemon. Makes 4 servings.
Rosehip Iced Tea can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Rosehip Iced Tea is also a great base for refreshing summertime cocktails. Mix two parts of Rosehip Iced Tea with one part vodka, shake hard with ice, pour into a martini glass or a highball glass, and serve with a twist of lemon.