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Agua de Jamaica or Iced Hibiscus Tea

Updated on June 9, 2017
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Ms. Venegas experiments with Mexican foods under the watchful critiques of her husband. The recipes need to pass a "when I was a kid" test.

Hibiscus Tea Recipe or Agua de Jamaica

Pronounced hah-Mike-huh, iced hibiscus tea or agua de Jamaica is a popular Mexican beverage. The ingenuity of the cook south of the American border has always caught my imagination. Flavored waters are a Mexican staple.

Frescas displayed in tall barrel shaped glass jars and served with long handled ladles is a quick thirst quencher.

Many different fruits make the inexpensive and healthy fresca drinks. Agua de jamaica uses hibiscus sabdariffa, misnamed hibiscus flowers by the market place. The petal-like dried "flowers" are the calyces, the growth after the flower dies.

We all have learned about the benefits of the dark fruits and vegetables. No exception with hibiscus. High in Vitamin C, antioxidants, and is a mild diuretic. There have been studies that it lowers systolic blood pressure. Move over bottled grape juice. This is cheaper and made in your kitchen. I will show you the easy way to make agua de Jamaica with a simple recipe.


Photo by Christian Frausto Bernal of Nayarit, Mexico

Flor de Jamaica on Flickr.

Hibiscus sabdariffa by wikimedia
Hibiscus sabdariffa by wikimedia
hibiscus tea in bulk
hibiscus tea in bulk | Source

Where to Get Flor de Jamaica or Loose Tea

A few interesting facts about hibiscus tea. The part of the plant used for the drink is the calyx, the cover around the fruit of the hibiscus sabdariffa.

The flower will last a good part of the summer and after it fades the calyx gets fleshy creating a sort of fruit. By harvest time the sepals covering the fruit are a very dark red. Farmers remove the fruit and spread the calyces on drying racks in the sun for the market.

Bulk hibiscus tea is not easy to buy in some areas of the U.S.

1. The Mexican food markets are the first source to find bulk bin hibiscus.
2. Check out the swap meets that have a big Latino presence.
3. Health food stores.


If that fails here are online sites. Ebay and Amazon can also be a source.


Dried Hibiscus - Market in Egypt. Hibiscus is called karkade in Egypt

photo by BerniMartin on flickr
photo by BerniMartin on flickr

image by BerniMartin on flickr

Iced Agua de Jamaica Tea Recipe


2½ cups la flor de jamaica

Rinse quickly in strainer to rid of impurities.

Put in glass or plastic container and cover with

8 cups water

Let soak overnight or for 4 hours in the refrigerator. Can be sun soaked, like sun tea, as well.

After the Soak Period - You have hibiscus tea infusion

Mexican Jamaica Tea
Mexican Jamaica Tea

4 cups

red infusion

Strain into serving pitcher.

4 cups water

Add to serving pitcher. Adjust to your taste by adding more water.

1/2 cup sugar

Stir into infusion. Adjust sugar for your sweet tooth.

Pour into a glass of ice. Enjoy your iced beverage.

I like enough sugar to leave just a little tartness, but not too much that it is sugary.

In the winter I like to drink it room temperature.

In the photo above notice the yellow soaker pitcher on the right. I added a couple cups of fresh water and will have a second drinkable pitcher tomorrow.


Slightly Tart

hibiscus tea
hibiscus tea

No boiling involved in this method as in sun tea. The infusing allows for a thickened drink like coffee.There is a hint of cranberry and without sugar it is tart. It is deep red and very satisfying.

Keep the infusion in the refrigerator. Prolonged warm temperature makes it bitter.

Agua de Jamaica
Agua de Jamaica

World Wide Names for Hibiscus Tea


I learned about hibiscus tea through Mexico, but since then I found out it is a world wide drink with many names. The places it is not common is the colder climes and the U.S. and China.

World Wide Names for Hibiscus Tea


flor de Jamaica or agua de Jamaica -- Mexico

wonjo -- West Africa

bissap -- National drink of Senegal

sorrel -- Tobago

carcade -- Italy

zobo or tsobo -- Nigeria

dabileni -- Mali

wanjo -- Gambia

saril -- Panama

red sorrel -- the Caribbean

chai kujarat -- Iraq

karkade -- Egypt

gumamela -- Philippines

omutete -- Namibia

Agua de Jamaica

Hibiscus tea is a favorite in many countries.

I always enjoyed a tall glass of iced agua de Jamaica when it was very hot. It is a welcomed drink in very hot locales. In Egypt it is called karkade. On the island of Jamaica they call it sorrel. Other Caribbean areas call it red sorrel. West Africa it is bissap. Each country makes it the same way. Either boil it or soak it.

If you soak it in a glass container in hot sun, as in sun tea, you achieve natural pasteurization. The temperature needs to reach at least 113 degrees and you are done.

Of all the years I have made Jamaica with the infusion method; I, or my four family members or visitors, have had no ill effects.


Yes or No Agua de Jamaica Iced Tea Poll

Have you tried Hibiscus tea iced cold?

See results

© 2009 Sherry Venegas

Try Agua de Jamaica - A natural hibiscus iced tea.

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    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      can you please add GUMAMELA? this is the filipino (philippines) word for hibiscus. originally, i come from the philippines but i live in austria, europe now.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Jamaica is one of my favourite beverages - cold in summer and hot tea in winter, it works both ways. Lots of Vitamin C, too, as you've mentioned. Good stuff all round.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      People drink hibiscus hot and cold in Kuwait and the Middle East as well! Blessed!

    • Othercatt profile image

      Othercatt 5 years ago

      I absolutely love hibiscus tea! I sweeten mine with a bit of cinnamon and honey and then add some orange rings and lemon rings. It's so refreshing and the health benefits are amazing. My mother-in-law has been drinking it daily for the last couple months and it's lowered her blood pressure enough so that her doctor stopped worrying.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      something new I haven't read about, liked the different photos of before and after too.

    • paperfacets profile image
      Author

      Sherry Venegas 5 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @anonymous: Hi,

      So, you want to get out of Texas? Oh yes, the pineapple drink. He puts about 3 cups chunks of pineapple in a gallon jar with a lid. Fill with water, add 2 1/2 cups brown sugar and about 1 cup beer. Cover. Let it set five or 7 days at room temperature. Start tasting to see if it is fermenting. You might Google Tepache to get additional tips. Thanks for stopping by.

    • paperfacets profile image
      Author

      Sherry Venegas 5 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @joanhall: Yes, making it yourself is very easy. I like it more concentrated than most vendors offer and, yes, with less sugar. Latin markets sell it from bulk bins. I have thought to go to the produce market in LA, but it is a bit of a trip for me.

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      I'd never thought about trying to make my own Jamaica before. This is a super idea because at the places where I have bought it before, it usually has SO much sugar that I can hardly taste anything else.

      Thank you for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Jamaica Tea Co. makes Fresh, Organic Agua de Jamaica available in all Whole Foods Markets. Enjoy the fresh taste of Organic ingredients and health benefits already brewed for you.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      Thanks! Great information! I live in Kuwait and here this tea is called KARKADAY :)

    • paperfacets profile image
      Author

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @kohuether lm: Haha Kohuether, koolaid takes one whole cup! Remember adjust to your liking and this is a whole pitcher. I like to taste a little sugar in my iced tea.

    • kohuether lm profile image

      kohuether lm 7 years ago

      Damn! That's a lot of sugar! I love Hibiscus tea, though.

    • paperfacets profile image
      Author

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @aishu19: Hi aishu19,

      I hope to see more Squidoo pages from you. Any Latino Swapmeet will probably have this and sell by bulk. Thanks for the visit.

    • profile image

      aishu19 7 years ago

      My grandfather loves hibiscus tea and cant stop talking about it. I should try it out someday. This lens is tempting me to go find some right away