Hibiscus – a Flower, a Simple Syrup, a Soda and a Tea

Pink Hibiscus flowers mjskitchen.com

 

The hibiscus flower is widely known for its beauty, but there is more to this flower than meets the eye.  The dried flowers are used to make a variety of beverages from hot tea to chilled Agua de jamaica (“ha-ma-ike-ah”), sparkling drinks to cocktails. And they have some health benefits as well.  I’ve been playing around with these dried flowers for a couple of years now and today, I’m sharing with you a few of my favorite ways to enjoy them.

Dried hibiscus flowers make a delicious simple syrup that is both sweet and tart.  The syrup can be added to sparkling water for a refreshing soda or used to make a hibiscus cocktail.  It can also be poured over vanilla ice cream and who wouldn’t love that?!  Following is a recipe for making Hibiscus Mint Simple Syrup.  Since I normally add a sprig of mint to just about any summer drink, I decided to also add some mint to the simple syrup.  However, you could choose to eliminate the mint all together, or even replace it with a small piece of ginger or a stick of cinnamon.

You can purchase dried hibiscus flowers from a variety of sources online, some herb or tea shops or a local organic/health store.  I buy mine at the local La Montanita co-op.

Hibiscus Mint Simple Syrup

A simple syrup made with dried hibiscus flowers, mint, sugar and water mjskitchen.com @MJsKitchen


Hibiscus Sparkling Soda

My favorite use for Hibiscus Simple Syrup is in a sparkling soda.  Can’t you just see yourself sitting on the front porch on a hot summer’s day sipping on this?

 

A refreshing beverage made with hibiscus mint simple syrup and sparkling water mjskitchen.com @MJsKitchen


Cold-Brewed Hibiscus Tea

One of the most common uses for dried hibiscus flowers is as a tea.  Hibiscus tea can be drank both hot or cold, but in both cases, it does require a sweetener of some type.  Brewed hibiscus flowers can be quite bitter.  My BIL turned me on to cold-brewed hibiscus tea, and after a little experimentation, I found that cold-brewed tea isn’t near as bitter as hot-brewed tea; therefore, that’s the method that I use for the tea below.

 

A refreshing summer tea made with dried hibiscus flowers and water. mjskitchen.com @MJsKitchen


Hibiscus Tea and Your Health

A friend of mine first introduced me to hibiscus tea several years ago when she mentioned that she had been able to go off her high blood pressure medication after she started drinking 3 to 4 glasses of tea a day.  After a little research I did find a study by the USDA that found that “Hibiscus sabdariffa L. tea (tisane) lowers blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults”. This study was based on results from 65 people, drinking 3 cups of hibiscus tea per day for 6 weeks. That’s not a lot of people and the drop in blood pressure was not huge (7.2 mmHg drop to the top number vs. 1.3 mmHg with the placebo), but for mildly elevated blood pressure it might help.

On WebMD, I found that hibiscus is also used for “treating loss of appetite, colds, heart and nerve diseases, upper respiratory tract pain and swelling (inflammation), fluid retention, stomach irritation, and disorders of circulation; for dissolving phlegm; as a gentle laxative; and as a diuretic to increase urine output.”  However, no studies were listed.  WebMD did provide a special caution & warning for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding:  “Hibiscus is UNSAFE to take during pregnancy. There is some evidence that hibiscus might start menstruation, and this could cause a miscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of taking hibiscus during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side, and avoid use.”

Scleroderma Awareness Month

While we’re on the topic of health, I want to mention that June is Scleroderma Awareness Month.  Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune disease that falls under the category of “connective tissue disease” right along side well-known diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and polymyositis. Systemic scleroderma, also called systemic sclerosis, can cause a hardening of the connective tissue throughout the body – blood vessels, skin, and internal organs.  To learn more about scleroderma, visit the International Scleroderma Network, a non-profit organization that has been extremely successful in educating and supporting people who have been diagnosed with all forms of this disease.

 

This Hibiscus Syrup, Soda and Tea post has been linked up to the following blog hops:  The Weekend Social   .

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49 Responses to “Hibiscus – a Flower, a Simple Syrup, a Soda and a Tea”

  1. coconut bars August 8, 2014 at 1:34 am #

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this
    onto a colleague who has been conducting a little homework on this.
    And he in fact ordered me breakfast because I stumbled upon it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this topic here on
    your web page.

  2. InTolerant Chef July 17, 2014 at 12:44 am #

    So lovely and yummy indeed! My dad grows hibiscus commercially on his farm in Queensland and we pick the fleshy red buds every year for the company that turns them into jars of flowers in syrup or tea. I love to eat them in jam or popped into other fruits and slowly poached or baked. We call them Rosellas over here and they are rather an old fashioned fruit that not many have heard about. Your syrup sounds gorgeous- I love anything with mint too :)

    • mj July 17, 2014 at 7:36 am #

      I bet your Dad’s farm is gorgeous when the hibiscus is blooming! I didn’t realize all of the other uses for the blooms. Jam and poached? Those sound very interesting! Thanks for the lovely comments!

  3. Nami | Just One Cookbook July 2, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    This is sooo gorgeous! Hibiscus is such a pretty flower and I heard good things about it! I’m thirsty looking at your beautiful pictures. :)

    • mj July 2, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      Thanks so much Nami! It does have its health benefits that’s for sure, but I like it most for its taste. B and I are hooked on the hibiscus tea. :)

  4. Dina@Kitchen Dreaming June 20, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

    Thanks for coming and linking up at The Weekend Social. Please be sure to come back next week starting Thursdays at 9PM EST on Kitchen Dreaming.com ! I hope to see you there! (Pinned)

    • mj June 21, 2014 at 8:15 am #

      Thank you for the party! I’ll be back!

  5. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles June 19, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Magic. Love the use of the hibiscus flower to create all of these delectables. I feel like I have so much to learn about using plant life and flowers in this way. And for someone who drinks tea as often as I do, I’m amazed that I have not yet tried hibiscus tea! Shame on me — looks like I’m missing out on deliciousness and a slew of medicinal benefits ;-). Your write-up (and photos) are so inspiring MJ. Just beautiful.

    • mj June 21, 2014 at 8:12 am #

      Thanks so much Kelly! There is so much to learn about the food we eat and can eat. Like you I love discovering new food, ingredients. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

  6. Ramona June 19, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    The color of that tea is gorgeous. I am sure it was just as lovely tasting. :)

    • mj June 21, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      Thanks Ramona! It does taste as good as it looks. :)

  7. Melodie K. June 18, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    Only recently begun growing my own spearmint and making iced teas with the leaves. Can only imagine ~ hopefully, not for much longer ~ how good the Hibiscus Sparkling Soda will taste!

    • mj June 19, 2014 at 12:52 am #

      Thanks Melodie! I’m with you – there is nothing better in the summer than fresh spearmint tea! I hope you do get to try the hibiscus tea. It’s quite good!

  8. Bill June 17, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    I used to drink Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea which if I’m not mistaken is made from hibiscus flowers. I had totally forgotten about how delicious it is until I read this post. I love all the recipes in this post, MJ. I’ve got to circle back around to this delicious tea. Beautiful photos!!

    • mj June 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

      OMG Bill – Red Zinger Tea! Now that brings back some memories. I, too, use to drink that way back when and totally forgot it was hibiscus leaves! Thanks for taking me back there and thanks for your nice comments as always!

  9. Katerina June 17, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    The road my company is situated is called Hibiscus haha! Recently I tasted a cocktail with Hibiscus and I loved! I am sure I am going to love this syrup as well!

    • mj June 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

      Thanks Katerina! It does make a nice cocktail, but with the heat we’re experiencing, I’m really loving the tea. :)

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    • mj June 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

      Thanks Agnieszka! I’ll check out your site!

  11. Raymund June 16, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    I thought you can only do this with roses, this is more interesting

    • mj June 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

      Thanks Raymund! It’s amazing what one can do with dried flowers. They are more than just decorations. :)

  12. Donalyn@TheCreeksideCook June 16, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    Love the photos in this post MJ – the drinks look so refreshing. I wonder if I can dry the flowers from my hibiscus tree on the front porch ;)

    • mj June 17, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

      Thanks Donalyn! I couldn’t find anywhere that dried hibiscus was of a specific kind or that you shouldn’t dry one’s from house or garden plants, so I would probably go for it.

  13. Hotly Spiced June 15, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

    I love your first image of the hibiscus flowers – so pretty. I didn’t know hibiscus tea had so many health benefits. Your drinks look colourful, refreshing and tasty and I’m sure they’re perfect to enjoy in the warmer months xx

    • mj June 17, 2014 at 11:23 am #

      Thanks Charlie! You can also enjoy a cup of hot hibiscus tea during the winter months that you’re experiencing now. :)

  14. Angie (@angiesrecipess) June 15, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Awesome clicks, MJ. The syrup looks very beautiful and I must hunt down some dried hibiscus flowers.

    • mj June 17, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      Thanks so much Angie! If you can’t find them locally, they are easy to find online.

  15. Debra June 14, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    I have a whole bag of dried hibiscus that needs to be made into syrup pronto! Thanks for this! (And thanks for the email regarding the digs in Abiquiu.)

    • mj June 17, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      Thank you Debra! well, if you have a bag of hibiscus already, there’s no excuse. :) You are most welcome on the contact. It was a great VR and I hope you and the husband get to enjoy it in the near future.

  16. susan @ the wimpy vegetarian June 13, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    I’m trying these as soon as get my hands on dried hibiscus flowers. First up will be the syrup and the drink with the soda water. It looks so refreshing for a hot summer day. Thanks for such a great post, MJ!!

    • mj June 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

      Thanks Susan! You should be able to get the flowers are a tea shop or healthfood store, then of course, they can be purchases on-line. Hope you like it!

  17. Choc Chip Uru June 13, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    Such a beautiful flower deserves this gorgeous syrup – I would drink tea daily with it :D
    Lovely recipe!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • mj June 14, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

      Thanks Uru! I’ve been drinking quite a bit in this heat. It’s so refreshing!

  18. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef June 13, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    Are there specific varieties of hibiscus that can be used or any variety. I’ve got some outside – will those work if I dry them?

    Your syrup is really attractive!

    • mj June 14, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

      Maureen, I did some research and couldn’t find any specific type of hibiscus being used. In fact, I found the complete opposite. For every country that had a hibiscus beverage of some kind, it used a different type of hibiscus.

  19. Charles Smith June 13, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    Oh, my mother-in-law just bought a hibiscus plant! Not sure she’d be too thrilled if I nabbed all her flowers, lol. Perhaps when it’s got a bit bigger?! Sounds delicious. I saw someone mentioned dried flowers? I’ll have to see if I can get a hold of some!

    • mj June 14, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

      Thanks Charles! You can purchase the dried flowers online. Amazon.com has a lot of choices!

  20. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz June 13, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    All great recipes. I have been a fan of hibiscus flowers for a while and I really enjoy making some cold brewed hibiscus tea. I like it also the week before ‘female issues’ come up. Have you tried the syrup preserved entire flowers? Expensive but good.

    • mj June 14, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      Thanks Evelyne! No I haven’t tried the syrup preserved flowers, but I’m going to go look it up right now. That sounds very interesting.

  21. Jodee Weiland June 13, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    MJ, this looks wonderful and so refreshing! I love spearmint, so this sounds especially good to me. What a great idea…thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

    • mj June 14, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      Thanks Jodee! And thanks for the shares!

  22. Sissi June 13, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    Dried hibiscus used as hot beverage is very popular I think in many European countries, but I don’t drink it often since it’s sour (adding any sweetener somehow destroys for me the idea of a “herbal healthy tea” ;-) maybe because I could never imagine adding sugar to mint, verbena or fennel teas I regularly drink).
    Now thanks to you I realise that the acidity does make sense in a cold beverage, in the middle of hot summer we are having now! Thank you so much for inspiration! I’m looking for the hibiscus package which is forgotten somewhere at the back of my pantry! And mint sounds like a genius idea too! (I love your photograph with mint decoration!).

    • mj June 14, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

      Thanks Sissi! Totally understand what you mean about it being counter-intuitive to add a sweetener to a healthy beverage; however, coming from the southern USA, there’s nothing better on a hot summer’s day than sweet tea. :)

      • Sissi June 18, 2014 at 10:02 am #

        Of course it does make sense to have sweet drinks in any season! It’s just me… I must watch my waist constantly, so I avoid sugar where I can (I already consume too much of it with chocolate and other sweets ;-) ).

  23. John@Kitchen Riffs June 13, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    Love the photos, particularly the first and second ones. We used to have a few hibiscus bushes when we lived in Florida — how I could have used this post then! It’s such a pretty flower, but I’ve never cooked with it. Now, of course, you have me intrigued. Love the idea of using this in drinks. Never knew hibiscus had so many uses! Very cool post — thanks.

    • mj June 14, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

      Thanks so much John! I know what you mean. I use to have a huge hibiscus plant (that’s where the first picture came from – years ago!), but wasn’t making hibiscus tea back then. Darn! :)

  24. Nisa Homey June 13, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    MJ, the pictures are really awesome!! Hibiscus is one of the most common flower of Kerala; traditionally we use it to make hair oil with coconut oil, its leaves are used instead of shampoo and the flower is used in many ayurveda recipes and home remedies….thanks for sharing this colorful post.

    • mj June 14, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      Thanks so much Nisa! I had no idea that it was used to make hair oil or shampoo. I’ll be looking that up. Thanks!

  25. Vicki Bensinger June 13, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    Wow I had no idea Hibiscus has so many medicinal qualities. I purchased a jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup (www.WildHibiscus.com) and have yet to make anything with them. Since I’d never tried them before I was a bit leery that one of us could end up allergic to them. With all these benefits though I’d love to try them. I’m sure the dried ones are better for you than what I have since looking at the Nutrition Facts it shows this jar has 10g of sugar and 11g of Carbs. That said, I think I’ll try the jar now.

    After that I’m going to seek out the dried Hibiscus flowers. I’d like to try some of that tea and maybe just add some agave or honey to sweeten it a bit to get rid of that bitterness you mentioned.

    Thanks for sharing all the facts and your recipes. Have a great day!

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