Jamaican Hibiscus Tea

Photo by ebarney / CC BY

Roselle Plant

Photo by Feralaas / CC BY

Dried Roselle Calyces

Photo by Popperipopp / CC BY

African Infusion Brand Hibiscus Tea

Photo by dcmetroblogger / CC BY

OTHER NAMES: Agua de Flor de Jamaica, Agua de Jamaica, Carcadè (in Italy), 洛神花茶(in China), Saril (in Panama), Karkadé (in Egypt and Sudan), sorrel (in Jamaica), bissap(in West Africa)

 

Hibiscus, also known as Roselle, is a crimson-colored flower. Hibiscus tea is brewed by its dried Hibiscus sabdariffa flower calyces/sepals. The tea is consumed around the world. Hibiscus tea has a cooling effect, which is popular particularly at hot areas such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Egypt, West Africa, Thailand, etc. [1]

 

FLAVOR & PREPARATION

 

Hibiscus tea has a tart, cranberry-like flavor. It is often sweet. Taste will vary based on the spice being added. In West Africa, it is popular to add mint and ginger. In the Caribbean, beer or rum is often added too. In comparison to crimson hibiscus, white hibiscus is famous for its bitter taste. 

 

Hibiscus tea is prepared by steeping flower calyces along with sugar (and other spice if desire) in boiling water for around 20 minutes. Strain the tea and press the calyces to squeeze all the juice out. Stir and serve tea with or without ice cubes.

The recipe is flexible with addition of spice like cloves or cinnamon. Rum is also an optional ingredient depending on personal preference. Lime juice can be added if wanting a fruit punch-like flavor. [2] Mint can be added for more refreshing taste.

 

HISTORY & TRADITION

 

The Hibiscus sabdariffa flowers are native to West Africa. During ancient Egyptian time, Hibiscus tea was the preferred beverage of the Pharaohs in ancient Nile Valley against the desert heat. [3

 

In today’s Egypt and Sudan, hibiscus is still used to help maintain a normal body temperature to support heart health and encourage fluid balance. In Iran, Hibiscus is traditionally used for supporting normal blood pressure maintenance. [4]

 

It is also a ceremonial drink for many cultures. In Jamaica, drinking hibiscus tea is a tradition on Christmas, which usually served with fruit cake or potato pudding. In Panama, the tea is traditionally drunk around Christmas and Chinese New Year. In Senegal (Africa), bissap (hibiscus tea) is known as the "national drink of Senegal." [5]  

 

HEALTH

 

Hibiscus tea is a herbal tea with many health benefits, however if you are a nursing mom or women who are pregnant you should ask healthcare provider/doctor for advice before consuming the tea. [6]

 

Other than women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, hibiscus tea has many health qualities to maintain our body such as lowering cholesterol level and blood pressure. [7] According to the article “Lower Blood Pressure Naturally With Hibiscus Tea” by Mother Earth News, it mentions the tea’s benefits, 

 

Recent studies show that hibiscus tea can lower blood pressure as effectively as some standard hypertension drugs can… Hibiscus is safe and, unlike most blood pressure drugs, rarely causes side effects. Plus, hibiscus plants can be grown in much of the United States, so you can actually grow your own blood pressure medicine.” [8

 

Studies have shown that drinking as little as 2 to 3 cups of hibiscus tea each day for lowering Blood Pressure levels. [9]

 

Since Hibiscus tea is made from dried calyces of the flower, calyces are known to contain high levels of antioxidants, which help fight against aging and chronic disease. (such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancer) [10] Hibiscus calyces are also well known for its high Vitamin C property, which strengthen the immune system. [11]

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