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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.

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