{Food and Gardening} Hibiscus: A Little Red Magic

I have always been a huge fan of herbal teas, particularly the sharp tasting “zingers”  that are commercially available. All of these zingers have in common a very special, magical ingredient – hibiscus flower, which grows in many corners of the world, hence its popularity.

What is so magical about hibiscus? For a start, the flavor! Fruity, citrus-y, tangy, and a little bit sweet. I prefer my hibiscus tea in the raw – nice and strong with no sweetener. However, if a sweeter brew is more to your liking, skip the refined sugar and try a few drops of organic agave or maple syrup.

A World of Health Benefits*

Hibiscus tea is popular as a natural diuretic; it contains vitamin C and minerals, and is used traditionally as a mild medicine. In Iran, hibiscus is traditionally used for help in supporting normal blood pressure. In Europe, hibiscus has been used to support upper respiratory health, alleviate occasional constipation, and promote proper circulation. North Africans have used hibiscus internally for supporting upper respiratory health including the throat and also use it topically to support skin health. In Egypt and Sudan, hibiscus is used to help maintain a normal body temperature, support heart health, and encourage fluid balance.

Recipes

With its myriad health benefits, why limit the fabulous fruitiness of hibiscus to a hot beverage? There is no better brew to serve over ice. Steeping in the fridge is the best way to go, but you have to be willing to wait a few hours to enjoy.

Hibiscus Fridge Tea

24 grams (or 8/10 oz) dried hibiscus flower
8 cups of filtered water

Load the dried flowers into a cheesecloth or muslin tea bag and drop it in the pitcher. Fill with filtered water and refrigerate for several hours or even overnight. You can leave the bag in the pitcher or remove it. I usually leave it because, unlike other teas, over-steeping hibiscus does not seem to make it bitter. Another benefit of this scrumptious tea? Its beautiful ruby-red color!

Now… how about a healthy sweet dessert?

Hibiscus Lemon Sorbet**

  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon

Boil water in a saucepan. Add hibiscus and steep for 15 minutes.  Strain and return to the pan, add sugar and salt, and bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Mix in lemon juice and pour into a bowl. Place it in the freezer for about an hour, taking out to stir periodically. When its cold but not frozen, pour the mixture into an ice cream freezer and process to sorbet consistency, adding the lemon zest at the last moment. If you don’t have an ice cream freezer, no worries – keep it in the freezer and take it out to give it a stir and break up the ice crystals about every 30 minutes until it’s the consistency of Italian ice.

Fancy a somewhat stronger beverage? This one comes straight from the LindaEve and Mofaha cocktail archives – measurements are approximate.

Hibiskey Whiskey Sour

  • Strong brew of hibiscus fridge tea (about 4 oz)
  • Maple syrup and/or agave nectar (a few drops of each)
  • Jameson Irish Whiskey (about a shot)

Simply mix the above 3 ingredients to taste. Healthy? That depends how you feel about alcohol.  Delicious? Oh yes! You can always make it “virgin,” sans the Jameson (but I don’t recommend it).

 

Pure and blended hibiscus teas and other hibiscus products are available from these Eco Etsy sellers:

(1) Happy Earth Tea (2) The Hedgerow (3) Gabriella’s Garden (4) You Be Mother
(5) Double Brush (6) Aquarian Bath


* Sources: gaiaherbs.com; Wikipedia
** Recipe adapted from Cosmo Cookie

This post was written by

LindaEve – who has written posts on Eco Etsy.
I'm an ex-hippie, eco-friendly, vegetarian mom of one grown daughter and three (OK, four) cats. By day I work at a university research lab, but my true passion is sewing - given the choice, I would sew all day and night, making beautiful, useful things out of discarded clothing and remnants. I am grateful for the opportunity to share some green crafting madness with the Eco Etsy team and all our blog readers.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for this great post! The hibiscus that is generally used for tea is from the plant hibiscus sabdariffa. The flowers are small and hardly noticeable. It is a small very light pink flower that lasts for one day, and then the roselle begins to form. The outside of the seed pod or roselles is the part that is used.

    The plant that we call Rose of Sharon in Louisiana is not the same hibiscus.
    Thanks for the nice recipes!

    Gabrielle

  2. Love this post! Especially the recipe for the Hibiskey Sour!

    Are hibiscus also known as rose of sharon? I have tried growing them, but my zone 4 winters seem to murder them.

  3. Wow! Thanks for these great recipes. I love foods/drinks that are healthy :)

  4. Thanks for including my tooth powder. I’m crazy about this herb. I also use it in yogurt, sweet and sour sauce and kombucha.

  5. I love hibiscus tea and iced tea. I thought it might be hibiscus plants that I have, but alas, it’s a tropical one that is treated as an annual up north. Lots of great recipes here for me to try out. Thanks.

  6. I LOVE this post! Thanks Linda!

    I tried Hibiscus tea from Happy Earth Tea and I really really enjoyed it! It makes great iced tea in the summer and really warms your heart when it’s cold outside.

    And I love your hibiscus tea stained tea bags! What a great (and pretty) idea!

    Thanks for the recipes!