Agua de Jamaica: Hibiscus Tea

Agua de Jamaica: Hibiscus Tea

The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 8 to 9 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
99 Calories
0g Fat
25g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 18mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 30mg 2%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 28mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

One of the most popular aguas frescas in Mexico, agua de Jamaica (pronounced like hah-MY-cah) is actually a tea made from the sepals of the roselle flower, hibiscus sabdariffa. The color and flavor of this drink is similar to tart cranberry with a subtle tea flavor in the background that is almost imperceptible when served cold.

Although strongly associated with Mexico and the Caribbean, hibiscus tea is known and loved in much of Latin America and in places such as Italy, Thailand, and northern Africa, where it is known as karkady. It is also said to have been consumed by the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt.

Its festive ruby-red color has led hibiscus tea to be associated with the Christmas season in Panama and parts of the Caribbean. Some cooks in Mexico include agua de Jamaica as an ingredient in the traditional Christmas fruit punch, which is usually served hot.

Hibiscus flowers are not only used to make tea. Gelatins, jellies, salads, ice creams, alcoholic beverages, and even tacos are created from this versatile ingredient.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups boiling water

  • 2 ounces dried hibiscus flowers 

  • 6 cups room temperature water

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 2 cups ice, if you need to serve it immediately

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for agua de jamaica

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  2. Pour 3 cups of boiling water over the hibiscus flowers.

    Pour 3 cups of boiling water over the hibiscus flowers

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  3. Let the flowers soak in the water for about 20 minutes.

    hibiscus soaking in a bowl

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  4. Pour through a strainer into a large pitcher. (Discard flowers or save for another purpose.)

    Pour hibiscus through a strainer

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  5. Add the sugar and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved.

    add sugar to the hibiscus water mixture

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  6. Pour in remaining 6 cups of water and taste for sweetness. Add more sugar or water if necessary.

    Agua de Jamaica: Hibiscus Tea in a pitcher

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

Tips

  • If planning to serve immediately, add only 5 cups of water and stir in the 1 to 2 cups of ice; stir until it is very cold.
  • Flor de Jamiaca, otherwise known as hibiscus flowers, can be found in bulk bins or cellophane packages in most Hispanic stores or ordered online.

Recipe Variations

  • Enjoy your hibiscus tea hot, if you prefer, sweetened or unsweetened.
  • Add a little fresh-squeezed lime (or other citrus) juice when serving.
  • Sweeten your tea with honey, agave nectar, piloncillo, or some other alternative to white sugar.
  • Add diced fruit (pineapple, cantaloupe, apple, etc.) to a pitcher of agua de Jamaica, similar to how sangria is served.
  • Mix your hibiscus tea with some other​ agua fresca (limeade, pineapple water, chia drink, etc.) in equal proportions.
  • If those who will be drinking the tea are all adults, spike it with a bit of rum. Add a little ground spice to your hibiscus tea, stirring very well so that it dissolves into the liquid. Try this with a bit of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, or nutmeg—or with a combination of two or more of these. Alternatively, use leaves of fresh herbs (basil, mint, or rosemary, for example); blend leaves with liquid, then strain before serving. Or try this hibiscus tea recipe with fresh ginger.

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