What Is Hibiscus Tea?

Hibiscus tea is one of the most loved beverages across the world. This tea is enjoyed both cold and hot, from Asia, to Africa to South America. Hibiscus tea adds a floral note, some aftertaste, and a very deep pink shade to tea. Besides, it’s a common ingredient in most commercially-prepared herbal teas—in tea bags and loose leaf tea. You can buy hibiscus tea in teabags, or choose to customize the strength and taste of the tea by using the components of the flower.

Where does hibiscus tea come from?

Hibiscus loose leaf tea tea comes from the flowering part of Roselle plants (Hibiscus sabdariffa). This plant is native to some parts of Asia, India, and Africa. And it’s essential to note that hibiscus tea is not a true tea, but an herbal infusion. However, we use the term tea because that’s how the drink is commonly known as. At times, hibiscus is also called Jamaica flower (in Mexico) sour tea, or red sorrel.

The part of the Roselle flower used to make hibiscus tea isn’t the petals, but the calycles, which is the part just below the flower petals. Typically, the petals of a Roselle flower are white, light pink, or pale yellow. On the other hand, the calycles are dark read, and that’s what gives the hibiscus tea its unique shade.

Once the Roselle plant fruits, the fruits can either be plucked from the calycles or left to dry and then separated from the calycles later. Hibiscus tea is an infusion of dried Roselle calyces. There are two ways to make hibiscus tea—by using boiling water, which is faster, or by soaking the dried calycles in cold water. While the latter takes a bit longer, it produces a smoother and fruity flavor.

Benefits of hibiscus tea

Most people believe that hibiscus tea has high contents of vitamin C. However, that’s a misconception, as hibiscus tea doesn’t have any significant nutrients. The fact is, while the flowers have some small quantities of vitamin C, the resulting beverage doesn’t contain vitamin C.

So, in case you take 100 grams of dried hibiscus flowers, they can give you around 13 milligrams of vitamin C, which translates to around 20% of your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). However, an 8-ounce cup of hibiscus tea contains zero vitamin C.

Use of hibiscus tea

You can drink hibiscus tea on its own, either cold or hot, sweetened or unsweetened. Besides, you can blend it in fruit juices, or use it as a base when making cocktails and other drinks. Generally, hibiscus tea is very versatile and unique.  Besides, it’s very good when mixed with some honey.

For example, agua de Jamaica, a traditional Latin American drink is a blend of hibiscus flowers, together with cinnamon, sugar, lime juice, ginger, and allspice berries.

Also, you can mix hibiscus tea with superfine sugar, ginger, and lemon zest, and then reduce it to make syrup. You can use this syrup as an ingredient to make cocktails like hibiscus martini.

Buying and storage

There are two ways that you can follow when buying hibiscus herbal tea, you can either buy pre-packaged tea bags or dried hibiscus flowers. The teabags are more convenient since they don’t require any straining. Besides, minimal to zero clean up after preparing your tea, apart from disposing of the teabag. However, the tea bags have one major challenge—the quality of the flowers in the tea bag is considered somehow inferior.

When it comes to storage, keep your hibiscus tea in a cool, dark place, and away from moisture, light, and oxygen. When you observe these, your hibiscus tea can remain fresh for up to two years.