Made from roselle flowers, hibiscus tea is one of the tastiest and aesthetically pleasing herbal teas out there. The hibiscus flower is a large flower that fans out beautifully with five colorful leaves. However, there are many varieties of the plant, each with its own gorgeous color; the red and pink roselle is the popular option for making tea.
Hibiscus tea has a vibrant, deep crimson shade and a tart flavor akin to cranberry or cherries. It can be enjoyed plain or with sweeteners and spices, but it also makes a refreshing spiced iced tea, known as agua de jamaica in Mexico. You can generally find dried hibiscus flowers or tea bags in the produce section of grocery stores; if not, it’s usually in the Mexican food section of your grocery or health store, or you can try a Mexican grocery store.
You can also make tea with hibiscus grown in your own backyard if you harvest it correctly and ensure it’s fresh and clean. Hibiscus tea is actually made from the calyx, which sits around the leaves of the flower for protection and support. You harvest the calyx after the petals of the flower fall off – although many people will still refer to the calyx as hibiscus flowers for simplicity.
How To Make Hot Hibiscus Tea
- A kettle or pot
- A teapot or strainer
- A quarter cup of dried hibiscus flowers (or one cup of fresh hibiscus flowers)
- Four cups of water
- Honey (optional)
- Cloves (optional)
- Cinnamon (optional)
- Lemon or lime (optional)
Step 1: The Boil Water
First, boil around four cups of water. If you want to make more tea, simply boil more water and use more hibiscus. You can use a tea kettle or just a standard cooking pot to heat your water, but a larger stew pot is useful if you want to brew larger quantities of tea.
Dried hibiscus is more potent than fresh flowers, so if you’re using fresh hibiscus grown in your backyard, you’ll need to use quite a lot for the same results. Although you can dry the flowers yourself, this is time-consuming and, arguably, not worth it just to make tea.
Step 2: Steep The Hibiscus In Water
Once the water is boiling, you can steep the hibiscus in the water. While you can purchase hibiscus in tea bags, typically, I just have a bulk container of hibiscus. For ease, you can put the hibiscus in a tea strainer or a reusable tea bag, or you can just throw the loose hibiscus straight into the water.
If you have a teapot, throw the hibiscus in and add the hot water. Or, if you boil water in a pot on the stove, you can just add the hibiscus straight into the pot. When I make it in the pot, I usually just turn off the stove burner and add the tea.
Step 3: Strain the Tea
After the tea has steeped for five minutes, strain it. Some nice teapots have strainers built in so you can pour your tea without worrying about straining. Otherwise, you can use whatever straining options you have or remove the tea bags if you use them.
Step 4: Flavor Your Tea And Enjoy
As a hot tea, hibiscus is delicious with cinnamon, mint leaves, and fresh lime. I recommend using a whole cinnamon stick, which you can also use to stir in honey or the sweetener of your choice. You can also garnish it with a lemon wedge and mint.
Learn more about the flavor profile of this drink in our explainer on what does hibiscus tea taste like.
How To Make Iced Hibiscus Tea
- A pitcher
- A half cup of dried hibiscus flowers (or two cups of fresh hibiscus flowers)
- simple syrup (optional)
- Cloves (optional)
- Nutmeg (optional)
- Allspice (optional)
- Lemon or lime (optional)
Step 1: Add The Ingredients To A Pitcher
In Mexico, hibiscus is brewed as the very popular agua de jamaica agua fresca. This can be spiced with a combination of cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. If you want to enhance the tartness of your agua de jamaica, you can add lemon or lime.
All you need to do to begin is to combine your cold water and hibiscus flowers in a pitcher. If you don’t have a pitcher, any large vessel will work. I recommend adding your spices at this step so that the flavor can be extracted along with the tea.
I don’t recommend sweetening your tea at this stage. I prefer sweetening my tea when it is time to drink it. This not only lets other people sweeten their tea to preference, but sweeteners can speed up unwanted fermentation processes, so it is best to wait until you are ready to drink it.
Step 2: Let The Tea Steep In The Refrigerator Overnight
Cold brewing tea takes longer to extract the color and flavor of the flowers. As such, it is best to steep your tea overnight or for at least 12 hours. This also helps to better extract the flavors of any spices you may have added.
Step 3: Serve Over Ice
Once it has finished brewing, just serve your tea in a tall glass over ice cubes. The nice thing about cold-brewing your hibiscus tea is that you can brew a large amount and keep it in the fridge for anytime you want some more or to serve guests. You might be interested in our explainer on what is hibiscus tea good for.
Step 4: Add Simple Syrup (Optional)
Not everyone is a fan of the tart flavors of hibiscus and would rather use sweeteners. While I really like adding honey to my hibiscus tea, I have found that honey does not mix well in an iced beverage because it is too clumpy in cold tea and does not blend very well. As such, I find that simple syrup is a better sweetener option.
Making simple syrup is, well, quite simple! Simply add equal parts of water and sugar to a pot and heat it up; stir until the sugar has completely dissolved in the water, and – voila – you have simple syrup. Once it cools down, add it to your tea!
In the summer, when I drink more iced beverages, I like to keep a bottle of simple syrup in my refrigerator. That way, I don’t have to make it every time I want some more. For more hibiscus recipes, check out our guide on the best tea drinks with alcohol.
FAQs About Hibiscus Tea
Is Hibiscus Good For High Blood Pressure?
Researchers have found that supplementing your diet with hibiscus tea can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels. If you already have high blood pressure levels and are taking medication to lower your blood pressure, you should speak to your medical provider before adding this drink to your diet.
Can Hibiscus Protect Against Fatty Liver Disease?
Our liver helps filter our blood of toxins – a healthy liver is vital for good health. Research has found that hibiscus extract helped to reduce the risk of fatty liver disease in at-risk patients. While these findings were based on a concentrated hibiscus tincture, not a standard cup of tea, it is likely that drinking hibiscus tea could confer similar benefits.
Can Hibiscus Reduce The Risk Of Cancer?
Polyphenols are a compound present in many plants that have been shown to help stop cancer growth. In several test-tube studies, hibiscus extract has been shown to inhibit the growth of breast, stomach, and skin cancers. While further research is needed, preliminary results indicate that hibiscus may provide cancer-fighting benefits.
Is Hibiscus Tea Good For Your Skin?
Antioxidants help promote long-term health and youthfulness by protecting us from the damaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable compounds in the body that are searching for an electron to stabilize them. Antioxidants can stabilize these compounds, protecting your body as a result – including combating the signs of premature aging.
Is Hibiscus Good For High Cholesterol?
There is good cholesterol (HDL), and bad cholesterol (LDL) have indicated that drinking hibiscus tea can increase HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol. People with diabetes and metabolic syndromes may benefit from drinking hibiscus tea, though larger-scale studies are still needed to understand the overall impact – consult your doctor before trying it.
Does Hibiscus Tea Help With Weight Loss?
Studies have indicated that hibiscus tea may be beneficial for weight loss. Research has primarily shown that taking hibiscus extract promotes overall weight loss in people and animals. While tea is not as concentrated as the extract, hibiscus tea could still help, along with a healthy, balanced diet and active lifestyle.
Is Hibiscus Anti-Bacterial?
Hibiscus can have anti-bacterial effects; test-tube studies have shown that the presence of hibiscus extract can slow the growth of several strains of bacteria, including E. coli. As such, hibiscus tea may also help the body ward off bacterial infections – still, always practice good hygiene.