Hibiscus Chronicles

Posted on March 31 2014


So I live in the hibiscus city. And I own a tea shop that sells, among many others, hibiscus tea. And on the 12th of April is the Hibiscus Festival during which we crown a hibiscus queen. I am in full on hibiscus mode!

Since I first came across the edible form of hibiscus, Hibiscus sabdariffa, I’ve learned much about this unassuming, annual relative of the ornamental hibiscus, the okra and the cotton plant. Also known as Florida Roselle, Florida Cranberry,  Indian sorrel and Jamaican sorrel, H. sabdariffa is native to India and Malaysia but was grown for centuries in Africa and was brought to Florida from Jamaica in the late 1800’s.  China, Thailand, Sudan, Egypt and Jamaica are currently the largest commercial producers of roselle.  I have learned it used to be a commercial crop in Florida from the early 1800’s through the late 1940’s when it fell out of favour.

Hibiscus tea has recently been on the forefront of medical and popular literature as evidence for its therapeutic capabilities mounts up. Scientific studies now collaborate what many indigenous peoples already knew. Hibiscus shows therapeutic effects on hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis (artery hardening), adipogenesis (weight gain), LDL oxidation (bad cholesterol), oxidative stress (auto-immune and inflammatory diseases) and modulates microRNA gene expression (cancer), with no adverse side effects!  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24444676  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23333908

And so, I’ve decided that in celebration of the Hibiscus City (Vero Beach) and the Hibiscus Festival (April 12th) I’m going to revive my lagging blog efforts and, starting tomorrow, will share with you my month of Hibiscus Recipes. For today, I’ll leave you with some simple directions on making hot and iced hibiscus tea.

Hot Hibiscus Tea

1 tsp organic hibiscus petals

1 cup of boiling hot water

You’ll also need your favourite infuser (I use a simple stainless mug sized one) or a way to strain the hibiscus out of the brew.

Steep petals for 4-6 minutes, remove from brew and either enjoy as is (it may be a bit tart) or sweeten with a spoonful of local honey or agave nectar.


Iced Hibiscus Tea

1 oz organic hibiscus

1 gallon filtered or spring water

Combine and refrigerate over night. Strain/remove flowers. Sweeten to taste with simple syrup. Serve over ice.  If you don’t want to deal with straining use a #4 t-sac or, my favourite, a Takeya iced tea brewer.



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