Hibiscus Tea (Agua de Jamaica)

5 from 1 vote

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This gorgeous ruby red drink is refreshingly sweet-tart, and the perfect pitcher staple for summer.

Hibiscus Tea (Agua de Jamaica)

Hibiscus Flower Tea

I had never made hibiscus tea until a friend sent me some hibiscus flowers (also known as Jamaica flowers or roselle or sorrel). Now I try and have a pitcher of it in the fridge during the warmer months of the year. It’s so refreshing, and undeniably gorgeous. 

Glass pitcher pouring Hibiscus Tea into a floral-etched glass.

What is Hibiscus Tea?

Hibiscus tea is made from hibiscus flowers steeped in hot water, as you make any kind of tea. Along with the flowers you will likely want to add some sweetener as the flowers are very tart. You can also add other ingredients to round out the flavor of the tea, like citrus, cinnamon, and/or ginger.

What Does Hibiscus Tea Taste Like?

It’s got a lovely acerbic flavor and is often sweetened to balance out the tartness. Sometimes it’s called sour tea or Agua de Jamaica. Some people compare it to red zinger tea or cranberry juice.

Hibiscus Tea (Agua de Jamaica): This gorgeous ruby red drink is refreshingly sweet-tart, and the perfect pitcher staple for summer.

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Two glasses of Hibiscus Tea with mint leaves and orange slices.

Hibiscus Tea Benefits

The flowers of the hibiscus, from the calyx of the hibiscus plant, are high in vitamin C and antioxidants.

Hibiscus Sweet Tea

This recipe suggests a range of sugar for a two-ounce package of hibiscus flowers and a total of 10 cups of water. ¼ cup sugar makes a very tart tea. ½ cup sugar makes a very lightly sweetened tea.

You can use agave instead if you like, and once the tea is chilled you can add additional sweetener, like honey or agave or superfine sugar after the tea is chilled to taste, or let everyone sweeten their own glass to taste. Granulated sugar is used in the steeping process, as the heat will allow it to dissolve properly, while it is harder to dissolve in a cold drink (as any iced tea drinker can tell you! You can also add simple syrup to the chilled tea.

Floral-etched glass and glass pitcher of Hibiscus Tea.

Where to Find Hibiscus Flowers

Hibiscus flowers are available at Latin or Mexican markets, and also online.

Woman holding a handful of dried Hibiscus flowers.

Hibiscus Tea and Juneteenth

Red foods, especially red drinks, are very popular during the Juneteenth celebration. Hibiscus is native to in West Africa, and there is a lot of symbolism and history to this drink. Red symbolizes strength and resilience under the oppression of slavery.

How to Make Hibiscus Tea

Place the hibiscus flowers, 6 cups of water, the sugar, orange zest, ginger and cinnamon sticks (if using) in a large pot.

Large pot with water, hibiscus, orange peel, cinnamon, and more.

Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let it steep for 30 minutes. 

Woman holding a steaming pot of Hibiscus Tea.

Strain out the solids, and chill for at least 6 hours, until very cold.

Woman pouring Hibiscus Tea through a sieve and into a pitcher.

Add 4 cups of ice cold water. Serve the tea chilled over ice, with any garnishes you like. And for a more “grown up” (boozy) version of a chilled hibiscus drink, try Hibiscus Cocktail, made with this tea!

Woman pouring Hibiscus Tea into a glass with ice, mint leaves, and an orange slice.

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5 from 1 vote

Hibiscus Tea (Agua de Jamaica)

This gorgeous ruby red drink is refreshingly sweet-tart, and the perfect pitcher staple for summer.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
steeping and chilling: 6 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 8 people
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Ingredients 

  • 1 bag (2 ounce) hibiscus flowers , about two cups (also called Jamaica flowers , flor de Jamaica or roselle)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (or more to taste)
  • Strips of zest from one orange
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger , peeled, sliced, and slightly crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)

For Garnish (Optional):

  • Grapes
  • Sliced oranges
  • Sliced lemons or limes
  • Mint leaves

Instructions 

  • Place the hibiscus flowers, 6 cups of water, the sugar, orange zest, ginger and cinnamon sticks (if using) in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it steep for 30 minutes.
  • Strain out the solids, and chill for at least 6 hours, until very cold. Add 4 cups of ice cold water. Serve the tea chilled over ice, with any garnishes you like.

Notes

You can use agave instead if you like, and once the tea is chilled you can add additional sweetener, like honey or agave or superfine sugar after the tea is chilled to taste, or let everyone sweeten their own glass to taste.  Granulated sugar is used in the steeping process, as the heat will allow it to dissolve properly, while it is harder to dissolve in a cold drink (as any iced tea drinker can tell you! You can also add simple syrup to the chilled tea.

Nutrition

Calories: 27kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 1mg, Potassium: 10mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 3IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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