I’m a drink person. What do I mean by that? Well, whether sitting down for a meal, or just moving about my day, I like to have a flavorful and refreshing drink by my side. I could say “just water is fine” at a restaurant, but I’d be depriving myself. In fact, for most of my life, a sugary lemonade or fountain soda was my drink of choice. But in the last five years or so, I’ve kicked that habit. Well I actually still drink lemonade (freshly squeezed only), but not nearly as often. And I’ll also drink an all-natural soda from time to time. But these days my refreshing drink of choice is some form of iced tea. Little-to-no sugar plus all-natural plus simple…. the perfect equation for health.
Hibiscus iced tea is arguably my favorite type of iced tea. The color is a beautiful fuchsia-red and the flavor is pleasantly tart and light. Hibiscus tea is technically a caffeine-free herbal tea (made from dried flowers, not tea leaves), and it can be found everywhere these days, from Mexican restaurants to Starbucks.
You may know Hibiscus Iced Tea as something else… Agua de Jamaica. Which, in my experience, is a highly sweetened version of hibiscus iced tea. I’ll treat myself to one of these from time to time because agua do jamaica is oh so tasty, but for day-to-day drinking, I prefer simple and unsweetened (or very lightly sweetened) to reduce sugar intake.
I recently decided to start making my own hibiscus iced tea and it’s an absolute cinch. All you do is combine the dried hibiscus flowers with filtered water and pop the mixture in the fridge for about 8 hours. After straining out the flowers, you’re ready to drink up! Keep the tea as is without any flavorings, or add some natural sugar, lemon juice, lime juice or even cinnamon to mix it up a bit. I’ve included three options in this post… 1) plain and simple 2) lightly sweetened hibiscus tea lemonade and 3) sweetened agua de jamaica. My favorite is the iced tea lemonade with a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a dash of organic maple syrup for sweetness.
Cold Brew Hibiscus Iced Tea
Yield: 8 cups
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
2 quarts (8 cups) filtered water (cold or room temperature)
3 tablespoons lemon juice (always fresh!)
pure maple syrup
Combine hibiscus and filtered water in a pitcher or similar container. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours, give or take.
Carefully pour tea through a mesh strainer into another clean container to remove the flowers. Discard flowers. Enjoy!
My Fave Variations
For a healthy-ish hibiscus lemonade, add 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/4 cup maple syrup after straining. Add more maple syrup to taste.
For a sweetened hibiscus tea (aka Agua de Jamaica), add 1/3 to 1/2 cup maple syrup plus more to taste, after straining. Whenever I have Agua de Jamaica, it’s always super sweet. When I make my own, I tone down the sweetness to cut back on sugar, but make it as sweet as you want!
For a sugar-free boost of citrus-y refreshment, add just the lemon juice after straining.