This lovely, deep crimson herbal tea offers a surprisingly strong taste and quite a few beneficial properties. I’m fairly new to hibiscus tea and have come to appreciate its tartness. My husband, however, has been drinking it cold for many years as he is a fan of Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea. (One caution: Red Zinger tea contains “natural flavors” which I will talk about in the future.)
That being said, hibiscus tea has been around for a long time and many cultures around the world drink it regularly. It is most popular and commonly consumed in hot, tropical climates like the Caribbean, Egypt and Africa. It’s known as agua de Jamaica in Mexico and Central America and is a common, inexpensive drink there. In West Indian locales, it is traditionally drunk around Christmas. And, in Egypt and Sudan, weddings are traditionally toasted with a glass of hibiscus tea.
The calyx of the hibiscus is what is used to make the tea. It’s dried, then infused, turning the hot water a bright reddish hue. It’s consumed both hot and cold. Just the other day I brewed four quarts of it for a refreshing iced tea because we were having company.
For proposed health benefits, this tea has a high vitamin C content which is its most well-known benefit. Additionally, it’s been reported to lower high blood pressure (but there are not many well-documented studies on this yet though). It is also high in antioxidants and polyphenols. My feeling is this: whenever you can get what your body needs from whole foods, including herbal teas, go for it! The taste of hibiscus tea may take a little bit of getting used to but I am confident you’ll enjoy it and your body may just thank you for consuming it!
Iced Hibiscus Tea
I doubled this recipe but I didn’t double the pineapple juice amount – wanted to keep the sugar content low)
- 1/3 cup dried hibiscus
- 4 cups water
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 32 ounces of pineapple juice
Let steep for 30 minutes. Pour into a large container & add pineapple juice. Add 2 sliced oranges and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. Tastes better with time.
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