Whether you realize it or not, you probably already know about Hibiscus. Ever had Red Zinger tea? That gorgeous red color and distinctive flavor can be mainly attributed to Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) flowers. Even if that tart, cranberry-like flavor is just too much for you, keep reading. You can always add a little natural sweetener (raw honey? stevia leaves/powder?) to get rid of that pucker, and it’s worth it. Here’s why…
As the weather has gotten hotter and much more humid lately (except for today, which is unseasonably cool…and I’m loving it!), I have been drinking lots of iced Hibiscus tea. Frankly, I started doing this intuitively. I love the taste, I find it very refreshing, and drinking herbal iced tea is a great complement to drinking water to stay hydrated. As I was drinking my third glass of iced tea one morning, it occurred to me that there are probably health benefits of Hibiscus, so I did a little research and discovered that multiple peer-reviewed studies have shown that drinking 16-24 ounces of Hibiscus tea daily can lower systolic blood pressure, helping people at risk of developing hypertension. In fact, the blood pressure reduction from drinking Hibiscus tea demonstrated in one study was equal to the typical effect of taking a single hypertension medication. There is also evidence that drinking Hibiscus tea can prevent oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol) and lower blood cholesterol levels. And my favorite piece of Hibiscus lore is that Hibiscus has been used in North Africa as a natural body refrigerant – that’s right! Hibiscus tea can help cool you down from the inside out when you’re battling horrible hot, humid weather or hot flashes, or both.
To sum up, Hibiscus tea…
Several Ways to Make Hibiscus Iced Tea
1. Hot-Brewed Iced Tea from Whole Flowers – I have been making my own Hibiscus tea from whole dried flowers. I just toss ~9-10 dried Hibiscus flowers, 1/4 cup chamomile flowers, and 1/4 cup dried peppermint into a large (8 cup) Ball jar, pour hot water over the herbs, steep it for 10-15 minutes, and strain the tea through a fine mesh collander to remove the herbs. Let it cool down a bit, then store in the refrigerator. If you prefer your tea sweetened, you can either add some dried stevia leaves to your tea mixture during steeping or stir in a bit of honey after straining. If you’d like to try brewing from whole flowers, here’s one of my favorite places to buy bulk herbs.
3. Sun-Brewed Iced Tea – I haven’t tried this yet with Hibiscus, but it can’t be bad. You may want to use more flowers for sun brewing. Maybe 15-16 dried Hibiscus flowers in that 8-cup Ball jar. Just add the flowers, pour cold water over top, and place the glass container in direct sunlight for at least 2-3 hours. When the tea has brewed to a rich red color, remove the herbs, chill, and enjoy. I once read that you can also add 1-2 TBSP of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to your herbal sun tea while it brews. And, of course, you can always sweeten with natural sweetener if you choose.
So, now that you’ve heard about all those great health benefits of drinking Hibiscus tea, are you excited to brew some up?
Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.