Agua de Jamaica or Iced Hibiscus Tea
Hibiscus Tea Recipe or Agua de Jamaica Receta
Iced hibiscus tea or agua de Jamaica is a popular Mexican beverage. Leer esto en espaÃÂ±ol. The ingenuity of the cook south of the American border has always caught my imagination.
Frescas, as they are called in Mexico, come in many flavors and can be made ahead of time and presented in tall barrel shaped glass jars and served with ladles sporting 10 inch handles for dipping deep into the jar.
Many different ingredients are used for the inexpensive and healthy fresca drinks. Make agua de jamaica using hibiscus sabdariffa, misnamed hibiscus flowers by the market place. The petal-like dried "flowers" are really the calyces.
Flavored waters or frescas are a Mexican staple. I will show you the easy way to make hibiscus tea with a simple recipe, cold and refreshing. In Mexico it is agua de Jamaica. Get a list of hibiscus tea's other names from around the world below.
Photo by Christian Frausto Bernal of Nayarit, Mexico
Flor de Jamaica on Flickr.
Agua de Jamaica is a Natural Drink
Great alternative to regular iced tea
Flavored waters or agua frescas are the preferred use of over ripened fruit. Nothing goes to waste. Melons, pineapple, watermelon or strawberries are simply blended in a processor, strained and water and sugar added to your liking.
Tepache is a fermented pineapple drink with sugar, cinnamon and cloves. My husband will make it occasionally. He is the only family member that will drink fermented pineapple. The other night he made himself corn silk tea. I did not try it.
Horchata (rice drink) takes some lengthy soaking and it needs blending very fine. Our one try at this drink was a failure.
The jamaica (ha-Mike-uh) drink is very easy to make. I buy the bulk hibiscus sabdariffa at the Latino swap meet Sundays at the Citrus Community College campus. This hibiscus tea recipe is a favorite of mine to prepare for summer time.
Photo right from Wikimedia Commons: hibiscus sabdariffa
Dried Hibiscus to Make Red Tea or Loose Tea - You can drink it hot.
Bulk Dried Hibiscus Tea
Where to Get Flor de Jamaica or Loose Tea
I found a few new facts that my husband did not know about hibiscus tea. The portion of the plant that is steeped 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. The fruit part is removed and the calyces or sepals are dried in the sun for the market. By harvest time the sepals are a very dark red.
We have all 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 by me.
Bulk hibiscus tea is not easy to buy in some areas of the U.S.
1. In Southern California the Mexican food markets are the first source to find hibiscus on bulk bins.
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.
Photo at top right by paperfacets.
Dried Hibiscus - Market in Egypt. Hibiscus is called karkade in Egypt
image by BerniMartin on flickr
Now You Have the Flor de Jamaica on Your Kitchen Counter
After the Soak Period - You have hibiscus tea infusion
Strain into serving pitcher.
Add to serving pitcher. Adjust to your taste of strong or more water.
Stir into infusion. Adjust sugar for your sweet tooth.
Pour into a glass of ice. Enjoy your iced beverage.
After a couple of infusions, adjust to your own taste. 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.
Notice the yellow pitcher on the right. I added a couple cups of fresh water and will have a second drinkable pitcher tomorrow.
Photo: Sherry Venegas
No boiling involved in this method. Like sun tea. There is a hint of cranberry and without suger it is tart. The infusing allows for a thickened drink like coffee. I like the thickened coffee-like version. It is deep red and very satisfying.
Another Pitcher Aqua de Jamaica
A refreshing Iced Tea
Your container with the dried Jamaica will have enough infusion to make another pitcher for serving. Add a couple of cups of water, store in the refrigerator and make another serving pitcher the next day.
Keep the infusion in the refrigerator. Prolonged warm temperature makes it bitter.
What is your experience with hibiscus tea?
I have not tried hibiscus tea. I usually drink...What.....?
Links List for Agua de Jamaica - Links for researching the benefits of hibiscus tea
World Wide Names for Hibiscus Tea
I learned about hibiscus tea from Mexico, but since then I found out it is a world wide drink with many names. The places it is not so common is the colder climes and the U.S. and China.
all information in box from, Wikipedia except gumamela is from goo2eyes
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
I found that 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?
Sayings From the Spanish
Para todos hay, como no arrebaten
There is enough for everyone, so don't grab.
Aranda, Charles. Dichos. Proverbs and Sayings From the Spanish. New Mexico: Sunstone Press, 1977.
Wikipedia. 14 September 2011.
© 2009 Sherry Venegas