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Agua de Jamaica or Iced Hibiscus Tea
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.
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
image by BerniMartin on flickr
Iced Agua de Jamaica Tea Recipe
After the Soak Period - You have hibiscus tea infusion
Strain into serving pitcher.
Add to serving pitcher. Adjust to your taste by adding more water.
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.
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.
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?
© 2009 Sherry Venegas