Hibiscus Tea (Agua de Jamaica)
Growing up there was a drink that I absolutely loved, Agua de Jamaica. A fascia colored, tangy yet thirst quenching iced tea. Agua de Jamaica is a popular Hibiscus tea is a drink in Latin America, being one of several common aguas frescas. It's one of the most popular aguas frescas in Mexico and can often be found along side with Horchata and Agua de Tamarindo. Agua de Flor de Jamaica is usually prepared by steeping the calyces, along with ginger (in Jamaica), in boiling water, straining the mixture, pressing the calyces (to squeeze all the juice out), adding sugar, sometimes clove, cinnamon and a little rum (in Jamaica), and stirring.
As an adult, I love the health benefits of this simple drink. Hibiscus tea has a tart, cranberry-like flavor, and sugar is often added to sweeten the beverage. The tea contains vitamin C and minerals and is used traditionally as a mild medicine. Hibiscus tea contains 15-30% organic acids, including citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid. It also contains acidic polysaccharides and flavonoid glycosides, such as cyanidin and delphinidin, that give it its characteristic deep red color.
What You'll Need
I use stevia instead of sugar and agave nectar. Why you might ask? Stevia is perhaps unique among food ingredients because it's most valued for what it doesn't do. It doesn't add calories. Unlike other sugar substitutes, stevia is derived from a plant, making it a natural sweetener. You can buy it online, Whole Foods, or a natural health foods store. You can also find Hibiscus flowers at these locations, as well as, at Latin markets.
The flower of Jamaica (Hibiscus sabdariffa) produces an infusion, to sweeten and cool, gives us a fresh tasty and a beautiful fascia ruby-colored water. In Mexico it is customary to take it with meals or at any other time thirst quencher.
This recipe is so simple. You'll want to place in a pot with two liters of water. Heat it until it reaches a boil. Turn off the stove and cover the pan. Let stand several hours (2-3 hours) or overnight. The water will turn into a deep fascia ruby-red. Strain the water to remove the flowers, and add stevia, stirring with a large spoon until dissolved. Test the water and add more sugar or more water, if necessary. Serve over ice, adding drops of lemon, if desired. I added lemon wedges and blackberries for garnish...it made my cups look pretty!
What To Love
Jamaican is high in Vitamins and Minerals with powerful antioxidant properties. It helps lower elevated blood pressure, bad cholesterol and detoxify the entire body.
Antioxidant levels in Agua de Jamaica are higher than vegetable juice, tomato juice and orange juice; and compares to Cranberry Juice and Pomegranate Juice with more antioxidant levels than these juices.
The antioxidant properties in Jamaica juice helps provide our bodies with protection against free radicals, molecules which cause heart disease, stroke, hypertension, Alzheimer’s, premature aging and cancer. Jamaica juice also helps flush the prostate, the liver, kidney and bladder.