Sips with Superpowers: Hibiscus Iced Tea

August 22, 2019

For a drink that’s literally steeped in health benefits, try a tea made with hibiscus, the Wonder Woman of flowers. This magenta marvel packs a triple punch: it keeps your G.I. tract on track, lowers blood pressure, and fights harmful free radicals with powerful antioxidants. Hibiscus also goes by the names of rosella, Jamaican sorrel, or Florida cranberry, and has long been used in cooking around the world. 


In Mexico, you’ll find locals sipping a cool, sweet, hibiscus-infused drink called “agua de jamaica,” while West Africans, especially in Nigeria and Ghana, call a similar flower-powered beverage “bissap” or “sobolo.” No matter the name, hibiscus is feeding a hot-pink culinary fever, popping up in recipes for spicy quesadillas and hip NYC cocktails. 


To brew your own superpowered sips, pick up some dried hibiscus flowers at an international supermarket, gourmet grocery store, or online retailer. You’ll create a concentrate by simmering the blossoms for 15 minutes. (If you prefer an even stronger flavor, add more flowers rather than boiling them longer, which can turn your tea bitter.) After you cool, strain, and dilute your concoction, make a choice: pucker up and enjoy hibiscus’s naturally sour, tangy taste, or sweeten your drink with agave nectar, honey, or sugar. (Dr. Cu votes for puckering up sans sugar. 😙)


You can also add extra summertime sweetness with fresh berries. Pour over ice and enjoy! The flavor gets even better if you keep your tea in the fridge overnight. It’ll be crisp, tart, and tropical — like cranberries on holiday. Best of all, this drink is caffeine-free, so it can be sipped from sunrise to sunset. Hint: Add a shot of rum, a slice of lime, and a sprig of mint to turn your tea into a “cooler.” 🌺🍹Cheers!



BERRY SWEET HIBISCUS ICED TEA


Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried hibiscus flowers
  • 8 cups of cold water to create a concentrate, plus ½ gallon cold water to make the tea
  • 2 cups of blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries
  • ¼ to ½ cup agave nectar (optional; turbinado sugar or honey make good substitutes)

 

Directions

First, create a concentrate: Add the hibiscus flowers to 8 cups cold water. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the liquid cool. After the flowers have sunk to the bottom of the pot, strain the brew to remove the blossoms (perfect for hibiscus quesadillas!). Keep the potent concentrate in a sealed glass container in the fridge for up to three days. 

Now mix the tea: In a pitcher, combine two cups of hibiscus concentrate with about a half-gallon of cold water. Stir in two cups of sweet berries and pour over ice. Too tart? Add agave nectar or another sweetener as needed.

Extra credit: The night before your make the tea, beautify your ice cubes by placing one hibiscus flower into each compartment of your ice-cube tray. Fill with water and freeze overnight.


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