Hibiscus tea (also known as Jamaica drink) is a refreshing tea made from hibiscus flowers. It’s totally refreshing on a hot summer day and it’s even purported to have health benefits.
Hibiscus tea is caffeine-free and it bears no resemblance to black tea. So, just what is hibiscus tea?
What is Hibiscus Tea?
Hibiscus tea is an herbal tea made from hibiscus flowers.
You can make pure hibiscus tea from the flowers alone (usually with added sugar). But, you will also find hibiscus mixed in with many tea blends.
What Does Hibiscus Tea Taste Like?
Hibiscus tea has such a complex flavor that first time tasters will be surprised to discover that it is only dried hibiscus flowers and sugar steeped in water. The taste is familiar, but distinctly different: part citrus, part grape, possibly pomegranate, and a big dose of your garden when a soft breeze blows by.
Why is it Called Jamaica Drink?
One of the most common names that you’ll hear for hibiscus tea is jamaica drink. This is what it is called in Mexico. As best as I can tell, this is not because of any connection to Jamaica, but rather because the hibiscus plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is called jamaica (pronounced hah-MY-cah) in Mexico and all over Central America and South America.
Hibiscus tea, however, is popular all over the world and goes by many different names. These include:
- agua de Jamaica
- sorrel tea
- roselle tea
- bissup tea
How to Serve Hibiscus Tea
Traditionally, hibiscus tea is served over ice with lots of sugar.
As I detail in the recipe, however, you can adjust the sugar to taste or leave it off entirely.
You can also try serving it hot on cold day. I like it both hot and cold.
What Are the Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea?
Some studies have shown that hibiscus tea helps with:
- weight loss
- lowering blood pressure
- reducing blood sugar levels
- liver health
- menstrual cramps
What Do You Need to Make Hibiscus Tea?
To make hibiscus tea, you’ll need hibiscus flowers. You can typically find dried hibiscus flowers in a Mexican grocery store or online under the name of hibiscus flor de Jamaica.
If you are looking for an organic option, you may need to look online. Teelyra sells a highly rated one.
If you happen to be growing a hibiscus plant, you can also make a tea using the petals of the flower. There are many varieties of hibiscus, so not all varieties will taste the same. Also known as roselle, red sorrel, and flor de Jamaica, Hibiscus sabdariffa is the hibiscus most commonly used for tea.
How to Make Hibiscus Tea
In a large saucepan on high heat, bring hibiscus flowers, water, and sugar to a boil. You can adjust the amount of sugar depending on how sweet you like your drinks.
Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Essentially, you are creating a hibiscus concentrate.
Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature.
Using a colander, strain out the hibiscus flowers. Don’t throw the flowers away! Save them to make candied hibiscus flowers.
Add more water to turn the concentrate into a less potent and more drinkable hibiscus tea.
Stir and chill. Serve over ice.
Hibiscus Tea Variations
Some fun twists on hibiscus tea are:
- Hibiscus margaritas (hibiscus tea with lime, tequila, and agave)
- Hibiscus cinnamon tea
- Ginger hibiscus tea
- Hibiscus sparking soda spritzers
Other Uses for Jamaica Flowers
After brewing the tea, you can use the flowers to make candied hibiscus flowers. Candied hibiscus flowers are sweet and super crunchy. They are like eating sugary floral crackers.
You can also use the dried flowers to make pink frosting or other desserts. To do so, steep the flowers in melted butter instead of water, let the butter chill, and use the butter as you would in your normal recipe. Follow my instructions on baking with tea for more detail on this.
- 2 cups dried hibiscus flowers rinsed
- 8 cups water divided
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- In a large saucepan on high heat, bring hibiscus flowers, 4 cups of water, and sugar to a boil.
- Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Using a colander, strain out the hibiscus flowers. Don't throw the flowers away! Save them to make candied hibiscus flowers.
- Add the remaining four cups of water.
- Stir and chill.
- Serve over ice.