- 2 cups of dried Jamaica (hibiscus) flowers
- 2 quarts of water
- 1/2 cup of sugar
Start with two cups of hibiscus flowers (flor de jamaica): Fresh flowers produce the best tasting drink, of course! But dried flowers are usually sold in most shops. If the flowers are pliable, they’re fresh, if not, they’ll be hard & brittle. Add the hibiscus flowers to 2 quarts of water. Be sure you add the flowers to cold water, this apparently makes a big difference. Also, don’t wear white! Bring the water to a boil & as soon as it boils reduce the heat to low & simmer for 10 minutes, After 10 minutes turn off the heat and allow the concentrate to cool. This fully extracted hibiscus concentrate will have a beautiful deep red color!
As the flowers steep, they absorb water and will sink to the bottom of the pot. That’s how you’ll know that the concentrate is ready to use. Pour the concentrate through a strainer to remove the flowers and into a sealed small glass pitcher or jar to store. You start the process with 2 quarts of water, but after steeping, you should have about 1-1/2 quarts of concentrate. Be sure to use glass – plastic containers not only give it an ‘off’ taste, they also stain terribly. The concentrate keeps in the fridge for about 3 days.
To prepare the drink, pour 1/3 of the concentrate into a 1/2 gallon pitcher. Add the sugar & enough water to fill the pitcher and stir vigourously to dissolve the sugar. Serve over ice or well chilled!
This herbal tea, actually popular all around the world, is made as an infusion from crimson or deep magenta-colored calyces (sepals) or the roselle flower. Consumed both hot or cold, its sweet, tart, and delicious cranberry-like flavor is really refreshing in hot tropical countries! The drink has a great number of names all around the world: roselle in Australia, sorrel in the Caribbean, agua or flor de jamaica in most Latin American countries and zobo or bissap in western African countries.
In our Latin American countries, agua de flor de jamaica is one of the many popular agua frescas, inexpensive beverages typically made from fresh juices or extracts. The perfect beverage to accompany any midday meal. Walk into any local restaurant and you’ll likely find super-sized containers with agua frescas, right next to the soda dispenser: these usually include horchata, tamarindo, and agua de jamaica!
In Africa, karkadé is served hot or cold, commonly sold on the street and the flowers are easily found in every market. In Thailand, it’s also prepared as a cold beverage, heavily sweetened and poured over ice. Plastic bags filled with ice and sweetened grabjeab can be found outside of most schools and in local markets. In Italy, carcadè is usually drunk hot, with the addition of sugar & lemon juice. First introduced from Eritrea, it was widely used as a tea substitute when the country was hit for its invasion of Abyssinia. Here in Germany, it’s often as an ingredient in mixed herbal teas, especially with malva flowers or rose hips, to enhance coloring…it just doesn’t hit the spot though.
The flower itself is of a beautiful red, extremely flashy with awesome properties & health benefits. It’s great for people with heart conditions: reduces arterial pressure, lowers cholesterol, along with being awesome for many other conditions: It’s usually prepared by steeping the calyces – or simply put, the hibiscus flowers – along with a number of spices (or not, depending on the region) in boiling water to produce a concentrate which you dilute with water, straining the mixture, pressing the calyces to squeeze all the juice out, adding sugar, sometimes cloves, cinnamon, and even a little rum! It’s usually served chilled. We personally prefer our té de jamaica very sweet.