Hibiscus

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Hibiscus is a classic caffeine-free tisane that comes from a type of mallow flower, with a deep red colour and a shape like tendrils. It is the outer covering of hibiscus flower buds, the calyx, that is dried and used in making the rosy-colored, citrus-flavored hibiscus tea. In Egypt, this hot sweet hibiscus tea is called Karkadé. Hibiscus is rich in vitamins A and C and beta-carotene, making it a good antioxidant.

Hibiscus brews a deep red liquor and has a slightly sharp, acidic taste. Hibiscus is, also, popular as a caffeine-free and prettily colored iced tea drink. Taste: very tart and lemony.

Infusion

  • Quantity: 1 heaped teaspoon (2½ g) per cup or person
  • Water temperature: 95oC (200oF)
  • Brew time: 8 - 10 minutes

Iced Tea Method

To make 1 quart / 1 liter pitcher:

  1. Quantity: 12 heaped teaspoons loose hibiscus tea or 6 teabags into a teapot or pitcher.
  2. Water: 1¼ cups / 315 ml freshly boiled water.
  3. Infusion time: 5 - 10 minutes.
  4. Iced tea: Fill a quarter of a 1 quart / liter pitcher with cold water. Pour the brewed hibiscus tea into the pitcher, straining tea or taking out teabags. Add ice and top up with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste.

To make individual serving:

  1. Quantity: 2 heaped teaspoons loose tea or 1 teabag into a teapot or mug.
  2. Water: 175 ml / 6 oz freshly boiled water.
  3. Infusion time: 5 - 10 minutes.
  4. Iced tea: Fill 12 oz / 375 ml cup with ice. Pour in brewed tea, straining tea or taking out teabags - not all tea will fit in, but this allows an extra ½ serving. Garnish and sweeten to taste.

Rule of thumb: increase the strength of the tea compared to normal hot tea, because it will be diluted by the ice and cold water added.

Health Benefits

Hibiscus:

  1. Replaces electrolytes and quenches thirst during and after sport;
  2. Eases symptoms of colds, flu and coughs;
  3. Adds flavour and colour to other blends.

Further Reading

  • Brown, K. (1999) Herbal Teas, North Adams, MA, USA, Storey Books. ISBN 1580170994.