The heat and humidity these last few weeks have kept us from wanting to go outside at all, let alone picnic. Aguas frescas to the rescue! One of our favorites is Agua de Jamaica, a refreshing drink made from hibiscus flowers and a daily staple in Mexico.
The hibiscus flowers used in tea originated in Africa. In Senegal, it is known as Bissap. Ghanaians know it as Sobolo, and in Nigeria, it’s Zobo. In Jamaica, it’s called sorrel and is typically combined with grated ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and rum or wine for a festive Christmas punch. We learned about it when our former babysitter, Julie, who hails from Puebla, Mexico, made it for our kids each summer, and soon I was buying hibiscus flowers by the pound.
What I love about Agua de Jamaica is that it is so easy to make and there are so many variations. Many recipes call for boiling the flowers, but Julie says it is better to let them soak in water overnight to preserve their health benefits.
Soak 2 cups of dried hibiscus flowers in 8 cups of water overnight. Strain the flowers through a sieve or cheesecloth. That’s it! The tea itself is quite tart, so you can sweeten it to your taste with sugar, honey or agave.
Pour it into a pitcher and store it in your refrigerator, where it won’t last long on hot days like these. Serve it to your kids when they complain about the heat, or use it to make this delicious sounding rum-spiked cocktail and bring it to your next picnic!
Agua de Jamaica
- 2 cups dried hibiscus flowers
- 8 cups water
- sugar, honey, agave syrup, or other sweetener of your choice
- Cover hibiscus flowers in fresh, cold water and let sit overnight.
- Strain the flowers through a cheese-cloth-lined sieve and sweeten to taste.
- Serve over ice.