You’ll love this wonderful and easy recipe for hibiscus tea, which makes an incredibly healthy and refreshing drink. No wonder this tea is so popular lately. With its lovely characteristic deep red color, it is consumed and loved all over the world, both for its irresistible flavor, and for its health benefits! And you can make it at home which is always a bonus :-).
A little bit on the history of hibiscus
The origins of hibiscus go way back to Sudan, but as we have already said, the first traces of the use of hibiscus as a drink and remedy go back to the ancient Egyptians. They thought that hibiscus water promoted sexual desire in women who were, therefore, forbidden to consume it.
The plant was introduced to Senegal in the 19th century, to become the flagship drink of the whole of West Africa, with ginger juice and bouye (baobab juice). It is consumed for all occasions, parties, weddings, etc.
The whole plant is used, nothing is wasted with hibiscus as it is common with most natural plants and resources. The leaves are used in sauces, to give a slightly sour and acidic flavor, the stems are used to produce fiber, and the roots are also used as a natural remedy, present in many pharmacopoeias.
Today, the hibiscus flower is used mainly as a drink of course, but it has also a few other uses too:
– you can make a puree, sauce or hibiscus rosella jam as they do in Cameroon, Congo Kinshasa, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, etc.
– in cosmetics, especially mixed with henna to color and make hair shine (see our article to prepare a mask with hibiscus)
– in food coloring, as a substitute for chemical dyes
– to make shoes shine: yes ! In Asia, the hibiscus flower is known as the shoe flower, because it is used to make shoes shine
– as an ceremonial offering: in India, they are offered to the Goddess Kali so that she fulfills the vows.
Types of Hibiscus
There are many different species of hibiscus, but we are going to look at the most common ones, which you can see in gardens and parks worldwide. Aside from being a devoted foodie I also love flowers and plants, so I also spend quite some time gardening when I have the time.
- Native hibiscus.
- Hardy hibiscus
- Tropical hibiscus
- Perennial hibiscus
Perennial hibiscus in best grown in non-calcareous, well drained, humus-rich soil. They find their place in solid soil, but require a cover of straw or ground leaves in winter to protect the roots from frost.
The exposure should be in a sunny place.
Plant preferably in spring with a large amount of soil and/or compost.
Annual hibiscus flower
Annual hibiscus can be planted in the open ground as early as May from seedlings sown in warm March. Water well.
A sunny or half-shade location is to be preferred but sheltered from the winds.
If your land soil is clayey, then amend it with compost and sand.
The hibiscus sabdariffa used to make hibiscus tea, also called Guinea sorrel or roselle, is a tropical perennial plant, native to Asia and the Pacific Islands, which grows up to 3 meters high and at least 2 meters wide. It produces many paper-like flowers that, when they fade and the petals fall, reveal the bright red chalice. Even though all the flower can be used to make the drink, only the calyx is usually used.
Roselle Juice or tea recipe
With hibiscus you can decorate your garden, your balcony, and flower your interior with hibiscus! This ornamental plant is covered with the sublime flowers and beautiful Shape of its Corollas, with shimmering colors.
Choosing a hibiscus by its main features
Hibiscus aside from making a wonderful tea is also a popular ornamental flower that has the following characteristics:
The hibiscus plant belongs to the family Malvaceae which has more than 200 species of hibiscus, and about thirty thousand varieties.
It is very popular for the beauty of its flowers of varying colors and shape.
The largest specimens of hibiscus can reach a height and span of 5 m.
Depending on the variety, hibiscus can be perennial or annual.
In our latitudes, only 2 species of hibiscus-declined in multiple varieties-are cultivable.
Among the outdoor hibiscus cultivable, we can mention for example the hibiscus syriacus or Althea, sometimes nicknamed “tree Mallow”. It is an outdoor hibiscus that can be grown quite nicely in your garden.
This genus of hibiscus includes shrub varieties that cover between July and October with single or double flowers, evocative of the tropics, with bright and varied colors. Their foliage has lapsed. This type of shrub to plant in the open ground, enjoys being placed in a well sunny area of the garden throughout the year. It also pleases in a tray at least 40 cm deep, to be placed on the balcony or terrace.
Here are some examples of hibiscus syriacus:
Hibiscus syriacus Duke of Brabant: double flowers of blood red color.
Hibiscus syriacus Woodbridge. Its pale red flowers, 10 cm in diameter, open in a trumpet.
Hibiscus syriacus Red Heart: flowers with dark red heart and white petals, 8 cm in diameter.
Hibiscus syriacus Blue Bird: pale blue flowers.
Hibiscus syriacus blushing Bride: large flowers with red heart and pale pink petals.
Hibiscus syriacus Kakapo: simple flowers of sustained pink color. Their shape resembles the peony flower.
Good to know: the hibiscus esculentus variety gives a fruit called “OKRA”, famous for its food and medicinal use.
Some examples of indoor hibiscus
The most sparing varieties of hibiscus should be grown indoors. These potted hibiscus will winter warm and can be placed outdoors during the summer.
Among these indoor hibiscus flowers , we recommend you :
Hibiscus sabdariffa, sometimes called “Guinea sorrel”: to be planted in a medium-sized tray. It provides abundant flowering. Its large Corollas have a dark red heart and its pink-edged petals are yellow. If it enjoys a maximum of sunshine during the summer – provided it is watered abundantly – it should be put indoors as early as October.
Hibiscus Rosa siniensis, emblem of Malaysia:
To be grown in a pot of moderate size, inside the house as soon as the outside temperature drops to 6°C.
More commonly called “China Rose”, it produces – under good growing conditions-a flowering throughout the year.
Its large flowers of red, cream, pink, yellow or orange are very ephemeral since they last only for a day. But the flowering of this hibiscus is constantly renewed.
You can grow it outdoors, even in winter, if you live in a Mediterranean region. However, consider covering him with a wintering veil and mulching his foot in case of severe winter, because the cold can be fatal.
Good to know: the fruit of hibiscus sabdariffa is dried and then infused to prepare an antiseptic and diuretic drink, very popular for its pink color. In Egypt, this delicious infusion full of benefits is called “Karkade”, and in Senegal, “Bissap”.
What is bissap (a traditional hibiscus tea drink)?
Bissap is the name given in Senegalese wolof language to an infusion of hibiscus sabdariffa flowers, but this drink is also found in many other countries thorough the world.
Here are the most widespread designations of the hibiscus tea in the world: Karkade (Egypt), agua de Jamaica or Jamaica juice/water( Mexico), folere (Cameroon), gooseberry country (Antilles), dableni (Mali, Ivory Coast, or Burkina), karakandji (Central Africa), Zobo (Nigeria), Ngai Ngai (Congo), rose tea, Tea of the Empire, drink of the Pharaohs, etc.
Green (or white) hibiscus flowers or calyces are often used for the preparation of sauces and different condiments, and it is common to use the red flowers to make hibiscus syrup.
Be careful though, as there are more than 200 species of hibiscus in the world, they are not all consumable, and only the infusion of hibiscus sabdariffa gives a proper hibiscus tea. Some people also make confectionery like candied hibiscus which can be enjoyed just like a candy.
What are the health benefits of hibiscus tea?
Hibiscus infusions have been used as a remedy since ancient Egypt, where it was used in particular to lower body temperature in case of heat stroke, as an aphrodisiac, and against insomnia and agitation.
They are still used today in many traditional medicines.
Action on blood pressure and heart health
Hibiscus tea has hypotensive properties to combat high blood pressure, and protective properties for the heart.
Studies have been conducted to prove the effectiveness of hibiscus as a natural treatment for high blood pressure. In 2013, a study of people with diabetes and hypertension who consumed 3 glasses of hibiscus tea per day, showed, after 4 weeks, a significant drop in blood pressure.
A recent Boston University study of 65 healthy men and women aged 30 to 70 confirmed that drinking 3 cups of hibiscus tea or juice a day for at least 6 weeks reduced systolic blood pressure by more than 7 %.
Another study showed that hibiscus sabdariffa infusion may even be more effective than hydrochlorothiazide, a molecule widely used against hypertension, but without showing side effects.
No studies have shown any undesirable side effects related to the consumption of hibiscus herbal tea (also known as Karkade tea), if this consumption does not exceed the recommended amounts.
What hibiscus tea is good for
Highly effective on the level of cholesterol and triglycerides
Hibiscus tea is widely used, especially in Egypt, to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides in people with metabolic syndrome.
Indeed, a study has shown that hibiscus juice helps people with dyslipidemia to better balance their cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Dyslipidemia is characterized by high plasma cholesterol, triglycerides or low HDL (good cholesterol) cholesterol.
By fighting bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides, hibiscus helps prevent the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
By the way, a study showed that hibiscus extract is an excellent natural remedy for reducing cholesterol and triglycerides in people suffering from metabolic syndrome.
Strong Antioxidant Action
Hibiscus infusion is an excellent source of antioxidants, including anthocyanins of the polyphenol family, natural pigments that give the flower its beautiful red color.
These antioxidants make it possible to protect the cells of the body from the effect of free radicals, molecules that lead to premature aging of cells and the development of certain diseases related to aging: cancers, cirrhosis,
Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other brain issues.
Moreover, studies are being conducted to study the effect of hibiscus on cancers, especially leukemia and stomach cancer for which the results are promising.
Action on diabetes
Studies have shown that drinking hibiscus tea infusion at least once a day allows the body to fight insulin resistance, thus helping to stabilize and maintain a good blood glucose level in people with Type 2 diabetes.
Action on obesity
According to some studies, hibiscus could help to lose weight, or at least facilitate weight loss and prevent health problems related to overweight and obesity.
Its effect would come from its properties allowing to accelerate the metabolism, but also to decrease the absorption of starch and sucrose following a meal.
Hibiscus would also prevent fat accumulation. A study has shown this action in the liver, accumulation which can potentially lead to cirrhosis, cancer, or hepatocellular insufficiency. This effect would therefore help to combat non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis (NASH), an overload in liver fat unrelated to alcohol consumption.
Action on the urinary system
Hibiscus has excellent diuretic and antiseptic properties, so it is well indicated to cure small urinary infections, and prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Hibiscus is indeed effective for draining the bladder and for the proper functioning of the urinary system in general, properties recognised by EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority.
Other benefits of hibiscus tea
Hibiscus juice is an excellent digestive that helps to combat all mild disorders related to digestion.
It is an excellent tonic, allowing to fight with strokes of passenger fatigue.
In many traditional medicines, hibiscus juice is consumed to combat depressive states, acting on both fatigue, laziness, lack of motivation, etc. this action would come from the effect of some bio-flavonoids, studies are underway, to understand its benefits on depression.
Hibiscus has antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, it would help to cure colds, coughs, angina, rhinitis, flu and all inflammations of the upper respiratory tract.
Hibiscus and its analgesic properties make it possible to relieve menstrual pain, but also to facilitate it.
As a poultice, it is used to treat oozing eczema, allergies, edema and dermatoses.
Summary of the hibiscus benefits
The hibiscus tea or juice is with the following main health benefits:
- analgesic (against pain)
- tissue softening
- slightly laxative
How to make Hibiscus Tea aka Agua de Jamaica (Iced version)?
Follow the recipe for hibiscus tea below to enjoy a delicious healthy beverage and you can drink it both cold or hot.
There are several methods, but you can try this one:
- 1.5 l water
- 100 g of dried flowers of hibiscus
- 50 g of sugar
- Optional : monkey bread, mint, ginger, etc.
- Boil water
- Put the flowers in the water and boil for 20 min
- Let cool and filter
- Add the sugar and possibly an additional ingredient of your choice and it's ready!
You can drink it hot or cold, or even slightly icy: place your hibiscus tea drink in the freezer for a few hours, while the ice begins to form, but without making an ice cube, it’s very refreshing!
This recipe for hibiscus tea can easily be customized to your personal preferences by adding honey, spices(cinnamon cardamom), herbs(fresh mint leaf or other herbs) and what ever other natural ingredient you like. Of course don’t go overboard and combine it with unusual things like mayonnaise or ketchup :-), though there are probably people that would like this.
You can go here to buy dried hibiscus for making your delicious and healthy tea, with high quality hibiscus flowers!
What is the taste of hibiscus tea?
The Hibiscus tea infusion has a nice tart taste with a subtle fragrance and feel of red berry fruits. Surprisingly fruity, its flavor is close to the cranberry with a touch of raspberry.
Bonus recipe: in a large saucepan, pour 1 l of mineral water, add 50 g of semolina sugar, 3 grains of black pepper, 1 clove, 1⁄2 cinnamon stick, the zest of 1/4 lemon, the zest of 1/4 orange, 1/2 vanilla pod with the seeds, 60 g of dried hibiscus flowers, and heat on low heat. When it shudders, remove from heat and allow to infuse 2 H. filter and serve well cooled.
Side effects and contraindications of hibiscus tea
As a precautionary principle, the consumption of hibiscus tea and juice is not recommended for pregnant women, young children and lactating women.
In normal dosage, there are no adverse reactions to the consumption of hibiscus tea. Contrary to what is believed, hibiscus tea does not prevent sleep.
If consumed In excess, the hibiscus tea infusion could be harmful to the liver, but at such high doses that it would be difficult to get there.
Have you tried making this recipe for hibiscus tea at home? Let me know in the comments below.