You know what is a very refreshing summer drink? Hibiscus tea. You grab yourself a tall glass, add several large ice cubes, then pour the deep burgundy coloured tea all the way to the top. Take a big sip, and ah.
In Mexico we are no strangers to scorching summer heat…actually, in many places around the country it’s hot all year round. Needless to say, hydrating drinks are an absolute must here. Today I’d like to share with you one of my favourite Mexican drinks, agua de jamaica. The literal translation is water of hibiscus, but the better translation is hibiscus tea.
Hibiscus (also called roselle), or flor de jamaica as it’s known in Mexico, is an edible tropical flower with an array of uses. Perhaps the most common way to consume hibiscus is when it is used in drinks similar to this one. The simple process involves infusing dried hibiscus flowers with hot water, then straining it and adding a sweetener. Sometimes other flavourings may be added, it all depends on the region and personal taste. Though the tea may be served hot or cold, I tend to prefer the cold option.
Here, let me show you how I make a pitcher of agua de jamaica.
- 100 grams or 3.53 oz of dried hibiscus flowers (called flor de jamaica in Spanish)
- 10 cups or 2.37 litres of filtered water
- ⅓ cup of agave nectar or sugar or sweetener of choice, adjust to taste
- the juice of one small lime, optional
- Pour the water into a large pot and cover. Bring the water to a boil, once it reaches a rolling boil add the sweetener and the dried hibiscus flowers. Cover and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to steep for 20 minutes.
- Strain the tea into a large pitcher, and allow to come to room temperature. Once it's cooled place in the refrigerator to continue to cool, or serve over a glass filled with ice cubes. The tea should have a little bit of tartness but not be sour, adjust the sweetener to your liking.
The taste is a little tart, a tad sweet, and it always hits the spot. The process is quite easy and I promise you’re going to love the taste and colour. Lastly, if you have any agua de jamaica leftover you can make popsicles with it. As we say in Mexico, ¡Buen provecho!, or enjoy!
Dried hibiscus flowers can be purchased in any Mexican food market or in the Latin food section of your grocery store —if you can’t find it there try Amazon.com.